Salcete panchayats firm against mobile towers in residential areas

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September 13, 2016 at 4:54 pm #6796

In view of the upcoming BRICS summit, the people at the extra ordinary gram sabhas held in various panchayats of Salcete stood firm in their opposition to mobile towers in residential areas.

The overall mood across these panchayats was that the people cannot be taken for granted just because of BRICS summit.However, most gram sabhas approved temporary mobile towers for the two-day BRICS summit in October with a condition that the same be removed soon after the summit was over.

In Carmona, where there has been vociferous opposition to mobile towers, a debate was witnessed between the government officials and members of the public. Faced with a barrage of queries from the public about the safety of mobile towers, the government officials could not provide a satisfactory reply on the concerns raised by the people.

When asked to provide details of the proposed towers sites in Carmona or whether they had compiled any data on mobile tower radiation in Carmona and nearby villages, the Goa State Pollution Control Board officials failed to provide any satisfactory answer and even feigned ignorance on the issue. 

The officials too failed to provide data on whether they possess any equipment for inspecting the tower for radiation and were unaware whether the ‘Consent to Operate” was granted to the mobile tower companies in the village. However, the officials informed that as per “guidelines for installing mobile towers” NOC from the local bodies is mandatory.

Villagers passed a resolution not to allow any mobile towers in residential areas but suggested that for BRICS summit temporary towers on trucks, similar to the ones used during Def Expo 2016, can be used. They resolved that any new proposal for permanent towers be referred to the panchayat and gram sabha for discussion.

It was agreed that a minimum distance of 500 mtrs be maintained between the nearest house and any permanent mobile tower. They lamented that BRICS summit is being used by the government to allow Reliance Jio to install towers in villages to capture the entire the telecom market. 

Carmona Sarpanch Sandra also informed that Reliance Jio and the owner of the building opposite the panchayat where an alleged illegal tower has been installed have been issued a show-cause notice and action under the Goa Panchayat Raj Act has been initiated against both.

In Benaulim, it was decided to adjourn the meeting for September 18, the day of the ordinary gram sabha and place the matter before all members.During the presentations, the villagers grilled the government officials and sought details of the proposed mobile tower sites, to which, the officials failed to provide a specific reply. Benaulim Sarpanch Remy informed that the gram sabha would take a final decision on the issue soon.T

he Colva gram sabha also adjourned the matter to September 26 where more people are expected to attend the meeting and give their feedback and views on the presentations.Orlim gram sabha passed a resolution granting permission for temporary towers till the BRICS summit is over.

Cavelossim gram sabha opposed the installation of more mobile towers within its jurisdiction, as the gram sabha members felt that the village has good coverage with the existing five towers.

On the requirement for more towers, the villagers said they will take a call at a later stage but for now they felt they did not require more towers.  The gram sabha was attended by a large number of people. Officials from the Telecom Department and Pollution Control Board were also present. The meeting was chaired by sarpanch Viola Costa.

There was strong resentment at the Betalbatim gram sabha as members told the representatives that they are opposed to any more mobile towers in the village. They questioned the urgency in which the extra ordinary gram sabha was called and felt that the government had left it too late to try and change public views. 

Upset with the presence of Dr Shekar Salkar, the villagers said he was a private doctor and that they expected a government doctor from the GMC so that in future they can hold the statements made by the government representatives accountable and at the same time questioned the purpose of having a private doctor speaking to them on the issue. 

It was decided that permission for temporary towers outside the residential areas for the two-day BRICS summit would be allowed and the same be removed after the summit. Betalbatim locals were also upset with the bad roads, which had been damaged for laying Reliance cablesIn Assolna, the gram sabha was chaired by Sarpanch Pedrina Cardozo. 

The villagers were upset with the government in view of past agitations against a mobile tower in the village.The gram sabha members conveyed their opposition to the mobile tower permission for the BRICS summit. Earlier, the opposition for a mobile tower in the village and the network range issue were also discussed.  There was uproar over the BDO’s delay in informing the panchayat about the extra ordinary gram sabhas.

The Varca gram sabha chaired by Tracy Fernandes decided to allow temporary towers for the two-day BRICS summit. It was also decided that in the future, permanent towers would only be acceptable at a significant distance away from the residential areas.  

The issue of improper network in the village was also discussed.Varca sarpanch informed that in the past the panchayat had issued a show-cause notice to a cellular company, which had installed the mobile tower without obtaining the necessary permissions.The government representatives failed to turn up in Navelim and Velim village for the presentation as they were stuck at other gram sabhas and hence the meetings were adjourned in both villages.

In Navelim locals had gathered to discuss the issue of mobile towers at the two proposed sites.  Navelim gram sabha members criticised the absence of the officials of the department of telecommunications. The issue of digging of roads for laying Reliance cables without panchayat permission was discussed.

The manner in which telecom companies were seeking permission for mobile towers under the pretext of BRICS summit was also discussed and the members suggested that the companies move an application to the gram sabha with relevant documents and only then the gram sabha would decide their fate. Furious over the absence of telecom officials, the gram sabha members requested the GSPCB officials to address the villagers. 

The GSPCB representatives said they have not come with any presentation and that they were present only to support the Director of Panchayats’ request. At this point, it was decided to adjourn the gram sabha so that there should be enough time for the members to go through the documents submitted by the applicants before fixing the next gram sabha where the proposal would be discussed.

Source/Reference: Herald, “Salcete p’yats firm against mobile towers in residential areas

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