Surendra Furtado, a very well known personality who once again took over as Mayor of Panaji city for the second term. Mr. Furtado has always been the controversy due to various reasons and the most visible reason is his straightforwardness. Being very clean at the heart our mayor does not calculate the consequences many times before making the statements and that is what always puts him in trouble. I know Mr. Furtado for quite some time and always seen him working towards the betterment of the Panaji city, sometimes his plans may not be all that foolproof but his intentions have never been wrong. I met Mr. Furtado at CCP to get his views on the development and up gradation of the Panaji city that is facing lots of issues due to increase in population.
As I mentioned in the preface of this article Mr. Furtado has become the Mayor of The Corporation of the City of Panaji for the second term and he is sure to continue for the five years this time and he gives the credit of it to Mr. Babsuh Monseratte. “My Panel leader Mr. Babush Monseratte, has shown a faith in me and wants me to continue the term for 5 years. People of Panjim are having very high expectations from me for one simple reason and that is their belief on my working style. I have been elected as corporators for the 6th time and My wife has been elected as a corporation of Miramar. People of Miramar, Panjim, and the whole of Goa have seen the developmental work we both have done in Miramar and Panaji area and that too without being in power for last 25 years. This is my second term as Mayor of CCP and 3rd year of being in power. During this period I have been instrumental in setting up the, 10 Joggers Park, 1 Football Ground, 25000 Sq.Mt. beautification of a Miramar Lake with the biggest joggers park in La-Campala colony. While doing these developments I have kept in mind various aspects of the society and made the useful things available for them,” said Mr. Furtado.
When I asked Mr. Mayor whether the development remained limited only to Miramar, he smiled and said, “While I was corporator, me and my wife were busy in developmental work of our wards regardless of the government in the power. Nobody stopped us, but as a Mayor I want to do lot of thing for the Panaji city but I have been made handicapped by this government,” said Mr. Furtado adding that “They (the opposition) are scared of my shadow, they don’t want me to grow big and that is why they are putting lots of hurdles on my way, which is hampering the progress of a city. We had a commissioner in the past who was also the MD of GSIDC. He made sure that the technical department of ours becomes defunct so much that we had to say, “now let GSIDC do the work” it reached this stage. For the past 4 years they were supposed to start the sorting center near Hira petrol pump but until now the sorting center is not ready. GSIDC had taken up almost 2 crores for covering of the St. Inez creek and they were supposed to put some type of netting so that people passing by don’t fling the garbage in the creek but this also is pending and nothing is happening,” said Mr. Furtado.
According to Mr. Furtado, the Panaji MLA is responsible for this, “Who is responsible for this mess? The former MLA who was there here for 20 years and now the present MLA, they are just busy cutting ribbons. Nothing is happening in Panjim city. This MLA of ours go to Saligao treatment plant and say we have put up such a big plant. Why is this MLA of Panjim not taking the garbage of the city to Saligao treatment plant? Why Vasco garbage is going there and why his own city garbage is not going there? This is the issue, which public should ask. Public of Panjim are quite. Whole of Goa has raised their voice whenever there is any problem but people of Panjim are always quite whether it is an issue of the casino or whether it is Miramar-Donapaul road \, everyone is quite and this is the reason this government is taking advantage,” said Mr. Furtado taking out his entire frustration.
When I asked the Mayor as for why he is not able to carry out the development in the city of Panaji and what is hampering the progress, he said the local representative who is the sitting MLA of Panaji is coming on the way of the work. According to him, the Mayor has his own powers and limitations while the MLA has his own power and under that limited power, it is not possible to try and enforce the things. “I am trying my best to enforce but there are certain acts wherein the urban secretary can overrule the enforcement and they are using these tactics. According to me the only solution for this situation is that we have to wait for three more months and see which government comes as favorable to us. If the government of our choice comes, then will be able to do wonders for the city of Panjim. I will bring the smart city back and I will also bring the AMRUT back to CCP. I will try to have a strong technical cell with a principle chief engineer, superintendent engineer, executive engineers, AE’s, JE’s in the cell,” said Surendra adding that “The government of Goa has not given us the salary grants for the past 4 years. We are paying salary to the staff from our own budget, thereby depriving our corporators of the development work in their respective wards. The funds which were supposed to go to the corporators to carry out the development work in their respective wards is getting wiped out in the form of salary. We require 1.5 crore salary per month and our house tax income is around 16 crores per annum that mean, whatever we are collecting from CCP is going for salaries. My 30 corpoators are not getting any funds for their development work and this is happening only because the government is not supporting us. It is the time that people of Panjim should realize. I can’t do any magic.”
Mr. Surendra Furtado is perhaps the first CCP Mayor, who has always been into the controversy due to something or the other reason. When I asked Mr. Mayor about the reason behind his being into a controversy he said that, this is happening due to fear developed amongst the opposition about his working style which is completely fearless and straightforward. “If you recollect, in the beginning, I told you that certain politicians are scared of my shadow. They feel if I am powerful and I may become the MLA and if I become the MLA, I might become the minister or might become a Chief Minister. This is their perception and fear. But I never said that I want to become an MLA. I am just a Mayor, let me do my work as a Mayor of Panaji city. I have no personal enemies but only political enemies and they are spreading the false news in the newspaper and local TV channels. This time I have decided that I will avoid speaking to the press. I want to the work for the betterment but these people are not allowing me,” said Mr. Furtado.
When I asked Mr. Mayor about the multilevel parking that has been put up by the government outside the city he said that the multilevel parking has been made to facilitate the casino crowd. “The Multilevel Parking is made to help the Casinos by Government of Goa and It will also help the ones who are going to the boat cruises. People of Panjim will not benefit whatsoever from that parking facility which has been put up outside the city,” said Mr. Furtado
Coming back to the Market complex which was supposed to have the bigger parking facility than it has at the moment. When I asked Mr. Furtado about same he said that, “If you recollect, when I was a mayor last term, I wrote to all the three defence ministers of India, AK Anthony, Arun Jaitley and now Mr. Manohar Parrikar to release that 4000 sqm of land which is being occupied by the military garage in the city to CCP and provided that is given to CCP, we will be able to handle the entire parking of the market area. We had also proposed to allow the free parking for military cars and trucks at the basement parking. But Nobody was ready to listen. The current Defence minister of India, who was the chief minister of Goa, if he can’t release this land to us then nobody can do it,” Said Mr. Mayor adding that “I remember reading somewhere that, this same Defence minister, Mr. Manohar Parrikar, had released acres and acres of land to Government of Karnataka within just 60 minutes and when I asked him he said that is a separate issue. Following this incident, I again asked the government to give us the Junta Godown to convert the same into the parking facility in the city but they did not agree to it. The only reason according to me is that, they know my capacity and that I have got ample of contacts in the corporate houses in India. They know that I will make use of those contacts and start the work here and then I will get the credit. This land belongs to the government. Let the Chief Minister Take cabinet decisions handing over all these lands to CCP.”
Despite the fact that there is pay parking in the city of Panaji, the vehicles are double parked in the city throughout the day. It is the matter of concern for the Panajikars, when I asked Mayor as what he is doing about the same, he said, ““CP has started the pay parking and people are getting their parking slots easily. Now, where our purpose is being defeated is double parking and that is beyond our scope. It is the work of a Traffic Police Cell. There is only 35 personnel in the traffic cell and they have to look after the entire Tiswadi. The DG and the Home minister should look into this and provide more manpower as this a capital city. They have got the manpower but they are kept reserved. The tourist taxis are parking in front of every hotel. at 8 in the morning, one will find all tourist taxi’s parked in line. When local shopkeepers come, they can’t find the parking in the city,” said Mr. Furtado.
About the CCTV cameras installation in the city, Mayor said that “When Mr. Naik was a mayor, who belongs to BJP, they had installed the CCTV cameras at Miramar and near the church. But within 3-6 months it all got kaput. Now we having plans of putting 200 CCTV cameras in the municipal market due to the security purpose. This will avoid spitting, throw garbage, urinate etc; all these things will stop once the CCTV cameras are installed. Now the proposal will go to the government. It will cost around 30 lakhs. We expect the government to give the fund and within 4-5 months once the code is over, we will install it,” he narrated.
Finally, Mr. Furtado spoke about the installing of a signals in the city. He blamed the internal politics for the failure of the St.Inez project where the traffic signals were installed. He also pointed out that the traffic scenario in Porvorim is very smooth due to the signals. he blamed the Police department for not installing the signals in the city of Panaji. He also blamed the Government for not implementing the 74th Amendment by which the Traffic, Hospitals, Transport, Health and Schools comes under the purview of the corporation. “If that is done than the MLA’s and Ministers will have no work to do,” he said adding that, “The place like Maharashtra, it is functioning but in Goa, it is not applicable because the government has not given the powers. The government should implement the 74th amendment.”
According to Mr. Furtado, He has many plans in the pipeline but he is not been supported by the local MLA and until their own government comes into the power the development work of the city of Panaji will move at a snail speed. If the people of Panaji are really looking out for the genuine development than they have to extend their support to the Mayor. Panaji really needs the facelift and this may be possible if the smart city plan is implemented. Incredible Goa seeks your say on this issue. In case you wish to share your views on this article please do write us on [email protected]