|July 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm #3493|
At the gram sabha meeting held on July 1, 2012, the sarpanch and secretary had to sweat it out as the villagers demanded legal action against those involved in an alleged scam that surfaced at the gram sabha meeting.
The issue came to light as the audit report for 2010-11 highlighted huge expenditure carried out without the call of tenders. Villagers alleged that this is a violation of the law and those responsible should be brought to books.
The total expenditure incurred by the panchayat without calling tenders was to the tune of Rs. 6,43,832, which was not accepted by the audit as it was in violation of Panchayat Raj Rules.
When advocate Xavier Rodrigues spoke up and demanded that the newly elected panchayat body should take legal action against members of the previous panchayat body responsible for the violations, the sarpanch displayed prolonged reluctance in accepting the suggestion. Adv. Xavier stated that the villagers will take action against the new (current) panchayat body if it does not take legal action on those who were involved in the scam. He stressed that the audit report was proof enough that taxpayers money was misused and that there were serious violations of rules, and violators cannot be allowed to go scot-free.
There was a huge uproar as people came forward and posed direct questions like, “Who benefited from the expenditure incurred without call of tenders?”, and “File an FIR against the former members who were involved.”
Sarpanch Romaldo Gonsalves, who presided over the meeting initially tried to get away by indicating that the audit findings were water under the bridge because the concerned (former) panchayat body is no longer in power, and by assuring the villagers that the new body will ensure not to repeat the same mistakes. In response to this, one Mr. Francis Colaco asked the sarpanch what guarantee there is that he will not follow the same footsteps and that the next panchayat body will not reiterate the same blame game.
When some more members spoke up in support of what advocate Xavier had pointed out, the panchayat secretary Shri. Krishna Gaude said that the work was carried out through quotations from “authorized dealers”, in response to which one Mr. Raju Iyer expressed that the secretary was trying to misguide the people by making it seem that the audit findings were not of concern.
It must be noted that the Panchayat Raj Act mandates that any one-time expenses above Rs. 10,000 or Rs. 1,00,000 per year requires inviting of open tenders.
The sarpanch for the financial year that was subjected to audit was Mr. Savio Gomes. However, it is important to note that Mr. Romaldo was also a part of the earlier panchayat body that was involved in the alleged scam.
The panchayat secretary Krishna too came under fire when Mr. Francis Colaco pointed out that the secretary, being a government assigned authority, should be knowledgeable and responsible enough not to allow such huge expenditure to be incurred without calling tenders.
As the current secretary Mr. Krishna Gaude and current sarpanch Mr. Romaldo (formerly a panch) were themselves both in office during the financial year that was subjected to audit in which the findings were recorded, it will be interesting to see how they pursue this matter so that the offenders are booked under the provisions of the law, which will set a strong example for all village panchayats of Goa.