Moodubelle: Heated arguments mark the proceedings of the first Grama Sabha of 2011-12

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By Eugene Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 24 October 2011: As the Village Panchayat represents the working of democracy at the grass-root level, that is, at the village level, heated arguments and counter arguments at the first meeting of the Grama Sabha for the year 2011-12 at the Belle Grama Panchayat premises on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 10.45 am resembled the noisy and stormy Parliament session. Should we say that the representative institution at the grass-root level is functioning well or the villagers have become more conscious about their rights?


Following the prayer, member of the Grama Panchayat, Harish Shetty who compeered the proceedings of the meeting, welcomed the President of Belle Grama Panchayat-Mrs. Jacinta Aranha, members of the Grama Panchayat, Mrs. Ida Gibba D’Souza-Memebr of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat, Nodal Officer-Shankar Shetty and officers representing various departments and the villagers.


Shashidhar Wagle, member of the Grama Panchayat and former President of the Belle Grama Panchayat, in his introductory remarks traced the evolution of the Grama Panchayat system and pointed out various advantages that could be availed by the villagers through the Grama Panchayat. Thereafter, Mrs. Jacinta Aranha felicitated Rama Acharya who was recently elected as the member of the Panchayat in the bye election.


Soon after, the storm started with Ignatius Monis and Paul Fernandes approaching the dais and Paul D’Souza standing at his seat questioned the validity of the Grama Sabha  as it is mandatory to hold Ward Sabhas before conducting the Grama Sabhas. Harish Shetty who was conducting the meeting made an appeal to the agitated members that they should allow the proceedings of the meeting  to continue and raise the issue at the allotted time. The arguments and counter arguments from the agitated villagers and the Panchayat members including the President continued for some time till the Nodal Officer-Shankar Shetty intervened and said that the proceedings  of the Grama Sabha should be continued uninterrupted. Meanwhile, Harish Shetty read out the dates and venues of the Ward Meetings for which the villagers argued that they were not informed about the date and timings of these ward Meetings.



When this reporter asked one of the Panchayat members later regarding the controversy of the Ward Meetings, he said that it is not possible to inform each and every member in the ward regarding the Ward Meetings. He further said that it is the duty of the ward members to approach the Panchayat and find out the date and venue  of the meeting. Besides he argued that in spite of informing the members, many times it has been found that most of them do not attend such meetings. He also pointed out that in spite of prior publicity throuhg loud speakers fitted vehicle making the round throughout the village announcing the date and time of the Grama Sabha meeting, not even hundred villagers attend these meetings.


Amidst the chaos and confusion, Mrs. Ida Gibba D’Souza in her address said that more and more villagers should attend the Grama Sabhas and present their grievances to the Panchayat. As she had to attend the Standing Committee meeting at the Zilla Panchayat she took leave and left the venue for which also there was objection from some of the villagers.


Officers representing different departments such as agriculture, primary health, women and children welfare, etc. narrated the work that their departments had undertaken from April 2011 and brought to the notice of the villagers various welfare schemes that are available. Raphael Aranha, headmaster of the Church Aided Higher Primary School made an appeal to the parents of the school children, especially SC and ST to provide relevant documents in order to get government scholarships to their children.  Mrs. Blossom D’Souza, manager of the Moodubelle Branch of the Syndicate Bank said that she would provide necessary information regarding the loan facilities if any member approached the bank.


Fr. Joswey Fernandes, Parish Priest of Belle Church who was present at the Grama Sabha read out an appeal to the Grama Panchayat administration regarding the alleged injustice done by the Panchayat administration in a land dispute between the church and another party and handed over the appeal to the President of the Grama Panchayat-Mrs. Jacinta Aranha. Alphonse K. Alva, Vice President of the Parish Pastoral Council read out replies from the Minority Affairs Minister and the Guardian Minister of the Udupi District for appeals from the church in the land dispute.


Once again there were heated arguments on the disputed land issue. The police who had arrived by then had to intervene to bring some sort of order. Eventually, the Nodal Officer stepped in and the Grama Sabha continued with the villagers submitting their applications and appeals for the redressal of their grievances.



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Comments on this Article
V.L.M., Moodubelle Thu, October-27-2011, 4:17
It is a controversial decision church priest attending Grama Panchayat it is unnecessary There is appointed church committee members are there they will handle it. Present situation is risky too, plus waste of time why cant we wait for for the court verdict. This land is church s rented property whoever donated their right of this land to the church not for the benefit of the church only show as big donor and secure the first floor in their name rest for the church that s it, this is the bottom line,Panchayat has only right to renew the license not vacant the land other thing Revenue department and Taluk office doing rest of the job.
Hilda, Moodubelle Tue, October-25-2011, 8:02
Belle Panchayat should arrange more awareness sessions for the villagers/general public to let them know of the free facilities available for farmers/widows/elderly people/children etc.. which will really help in the overall development of the villages under Belle Grama Panchayat.
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Tue, October-25-2011, 5:53
In the opinion of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Chairman of Constitution Drafting Committee, Grama Sabhas are ‘a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and communalism”. Grama Panchayats were not part of his vision. However, Mahatma Gandhi insisted and as a compromise, Directive Principals of State Policy provided that in future state governments transfer such powers and authority to enable them to govern themselves. Until the Grama Sabha is about a shared public sense of public duty and not of individual or collective rights, Dr. Ambedkar will be vindicated.
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Tue, October-25-2011, 5:37
Reaction #1 During the struggle for freedom from British rule, Mahatma Gandhi stressed the need for village swaraj, envisioning every village as an independent republic. He wrote: “My idea of village swaraj is that it is a complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its own vital wants, and yet interdependence for many others in which dependence is a necessity”. Under the national constitutional provisions and Karnataka State laws, can the Belle Grama Sabha guarantee the ‘rights’ as people interpret? Speaking of ‘rights’ is an attitude acquired by those who are lucky to have a sugar daddy to foot their bills. Someone else always pays? How can anyone live off on someone else’s money and resources, and yet preserve freedom? Freedom requires everyone to pay for the public goods and servcies that he enjoys or expects to enjoy.
Vijay D\ Souza, Moodubelle Tue, October-25-2011, 1:58
Thank you people of Belle for courageously taking on these leaders. From the photos one could see that many ladies and senior citizens have attended this event which shows their concern and injustice done by these leaders. Only giving big lectures and talking from the law books will not solve any problems. These leaders should work honestly and without selfish motives. Grama Sabhe is a wonderful opportunity for the public to air their opinion, dissent and now when the heat is on, these leaders will realize how they are accountable to the public who voted them. But it is funny to see those involved in wrong doings are on the stage and are made decision makers in this democratic set up.
Benedict Noronha, Udupi (Camp:Abudhabi) Tue, October-25-2011, 12:59
It is very good to see a large number of villagers attended in te Grama Sabha. The discussions were also good. At the village level such heated discussions and answers to the problems are O.k. The behaviour of the villagers was tolerable as compared to the State Assembly and that of parliament whee highly educated and experienced political leaders participate. I congratulate the Grama sabha leaders and participants for their active participation. In my opinion Ward sabha must be held and the resolutions/decisions are required to be discussed and adopted in the Panchayath Sabha. all these technicalities must be clevrly handled by the Panchayath Secretary guiding the President and othe memebrs. There is scope for improvement in holding or conducting of the meatings. Well done President and members of our Belle grama panchayath.Keep it up.
Joy lobo, moodubelle/mangalore Mon, October-24-2011, 11:32
First and foremost problem in village is, people don't know about their rights. People are not aware of what all kind of facilities can acquire under different level of departments under grama panchayat and different levels. Regarding Church illegal documentation case, it is better to approach nearest Lokayuktha. Otherwise, it is simply waste of time waiting for the justice from belle people. May our Saint Lawrence open the minds of the people.
Anner, Moodubelle Mon, October-24-2011, 2:16

Again its a waste of time for all of us specially bellevision readers. I can not find any valid points discussed during the meeting except church land issue arguments. Where is the list of the developments they have done so far?

Pothraam, Belle Mon, October-24-2011, 1:58


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