2008-08-16 21:33:19 UTC
By Venita Coelho
venitacoelho at gmail.com
As a member of the GBA and part of the Core Committee I read with
concern Sujay Gupta's column 'Oscar Rebello fell to Goa's Traitors'.
He propounds a conspiracy theory led by a cabal that was 'jealous'
'sold out' and 'enraged with the support and goodwill that Oscar had'.
According to him this conspiracy began with the letter allegedly
"rejecting" the Interim Task Force report that the same 'forces with
the GBA' 'prevailed upon' Sabina Martins to send. It ended with a plot
to 'force' Oscar Rebello and 'his trusted aides Ritu Prasad and
Patricia Pinto out of the Task Force'.
FACT: The letter that was sent out rejecting the "procedures adopted
in formulating the Interim Report" of the Task Force RPG 2021 was the
end of a long process of analysis and understanding. Across two months
discussions and analysis and no less than five meetings were held to
find agreement and consensus on our stand
A letter that is two months in the making can scarcely be described as
being forced through. The minutes of the GBA prove that the letter
itself was the end result of a process of very careful consideration.
Not the result of so called 'forces' bullying the rest of group.
FACT: Patricia Pinto and Ritu Prasad continue to be members of the GBA
and part of the Core Committee. Ritu, in fact, heads the effort to
revoke amendments to Section 16 and 16A to the TCP Act, 1974. Public
presentations have been conducted by these two members and Pravin
Sabnis in Panjim on 02 August and in Margao on 09 August, 2008. Surely
that in itself is enough to nip in the bud fantastic theories of whole
sale conspiracies of ouster and backstabbing.
The columnist then calls the GBA 'mainly a body of internet tigers and
a bunch of rabble rousers'.
FACT: The GBA includes social activist Roland Martins, who has ensured
door delivery of cooking gas and exposed many a fraud by marketing
agencies; Architect Dean D'Cruz who is a member of the TF; Soter
D'Souza who is the Director of the Centre for Panchayati Raj; Fr.
Maverick Fernandes, the Executive Secretary of CSJP; Sridhar Kamat, a
practicing Engineer and a poet; Sabina Martins, a well-known figure on
gender issues besides being a Chemistry teacher at Sharada Mandir; and
others who are established names in their chosen fields of work.
The columnist dismisses all the above people of great personal
integrity and impeccable professional qualifications and proven track
records. His own track record makes for woeful reading. His so called
'expose' on the 'naxalites' in the mining business was fully exposed
by Dr. Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation in the pages of this very
Without taking away at all from all that Dr. Oscar has contributed to
the GBA, a people's mass movement is not a one man effort. It has been
the effort of no less than two dozen NGO's and over thirty Core
Committee members. The very same leaders who went to the people and
motivated them to protest the Regional Plan 2011are now being labelled
According to the columnist the Task Force in its report 'completely
neutralized the absolute discretionary powers of the government
(granted) by the amendment ( 16 and 16A) to the TCP act.'
FACT: No "Rule" can ever neutralise a "Law". Rules can be changed by
the Administrative Secretary. Laws need legislative powers to change.
While the Regional Plan may be visionary in trying to incorporate
people's participation the fact is that it operates within the mandate
of the TCP Act, 1974, with no powers to change or over ride it. The
fact is the opposite of what your columnist states - amendment to
section 16 and 16A actually completely neutralizes all that the
Regional Plan seeks to do.
FACT: What the Amendment does in fact do is leave a back door open for
the government to hustle in PPP projects by conveniently labelling
them government projects. All such government projects fall outside
the purview of the Regional Plan. Any right thinking and right meaning
individual can surely see the dangers inherent here.
FACT: So serious are the implications of amendment to section 16 and
16A to the TCP Act, that all members of GBA have put their weight
behind opposing the Amendment. Ritu Prasad, who, according to Sujoy
Gupta, has been 'backstabbed', and 'forced out' by 'traitors', leads
the fight to get the amendment revoked. She and members of the GBA are
currently involved in visiting MLAs to explain the situation, and in
holding a serious of public workshops to bring the facts to the
The columnist's frivolous interpretation of the implications of a very
serious amendment reveals his shallow journalistic abilities or his
vested interest in misleading the readers or both.
In the same vein of superficial understanding he states that 'a
comprehensive plan for people's participation' is provided for by the
requirement that the plan proposal be explained to the people through
a Taluka Committee.
FACT: The Regional Plan does provide for Taluka Committees, which is
actually a re-packaged PDA, to explain the plan proposal to people. Mr
Gupta has glibly read explanation as equal to people's participation.
It is not. What the people get is a four month window in which to
submit comments and objections. This is 'reaction' not
FACT: One state in India -- Kerala -- has actually seen through
'bottom up', participatory peoples planning. But it did so after a two
year exercise in training local bodies on how to plan. What the
Regional Plan gives us is a four month window in which to react, not
FACT: This Regional Plan has gone much further than others in trying
to incorporate people's participation. But, however well meaning and
visionary this particular plan is, it has two fatal flaws.
One - Amendment to Section16 and 16A leaves a huge hole that the
government can use at will to over ride the Regional Plan.
Two - The plan provides direction but no real mechanism for power to
be given to the people. This can only come with the implementation of
the 73rd and 74th amendment in its true spirit.
FACT: Without real power returning to the people, the GBA's job is left undone.
The 73rd and 74th amendment are crucial to actual powers being given
to the people.
This has been GBA's stand from the beginning and is a part of the
Memorandum to the Government dated 18 December, 2006 -- from long
before Dr. Oscar Rebelo was appointed to be a part of the Task Force.
This has been the GBA's consistent stand and the same was also
communicated to the Task Force vide letter dated 26 May, 2008.
With the Regional Plan 2021 nearing completion it has become crucial
to push for real people's participation, not theoretical
participation. Far from being 'traitors' and 'betraying' the people of
Goa, this is what the GBA is now working towards.
Mr Gupta suggests members of the GBA go to the grassroots and listen
to the people. He is ignorant of the fact that a large part of the GBA
is made up of people who work on a daily basis at the grassroots. It
is because they have worked so closely for years at the ground level,
that they hold the real interests of the people at heart.
The real interests of the people are served by a revocation of
Amendment to Section 16 and 16A which annuls all that this Regional
Plan 2021 seeks to do.
The real interests of the people are served by giving to them real
power, not the promise of it. That can come only with implementation
of the 73rd and 74th Amendment in its true spirit as incorporated in
the Article 243 of the Constitution of India.
This is the second time this particular columnist is being exposed as
being long on purple and empty prose and woefully short on facts.
Goans in general, and readers of the Herald in particular, have a
right know Mr Gupta's real agenda. Is he merely using his often
repeated from-the-rooftops declaration of love for Goa to curry favour
in these parts? Or does he carry the brief for powerful mining and
construction lobbies, as Dr Claude Alvares' earlier demolition of Mr
Gupta's mythmaking has proven beyond doubt? It does the reputation of
your paper no good to give column space to journalists who have a
malicious agenda of their own.
Mr. Gupta suggests that members of the GBA look in the mirror and see
the definition of 'evil'. You could do with reflection yourself Mr.
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