Netravali panchayat members booked for forgery

Netravali panchayat members booked for forgery

Margao: A novel initiative by Netravali panchayat to collect garbage and parking fees from tourists has landed the panchayat in trouble, with police booking the sarpanch, Rajani Gaonkar, deputy sarpanch, Abhijit Dessai, and other panchayat members, on charges of forgery for printing “fake” receipt books. The panchayat, however, has termed the charges as “fabricated” and “politically motivated,” while maintaining that that their intention was clean and there has been no forgery.

Speaking to TOI, Dessai said that the local body may have made some procedural lapses while implementing the panchayat’s resolution of collecting garbage and parking fees, but maintained that “there have been no irregularities as far as collection of money is concerned.”

“Details of the revenue received during the one week wherein we collected the fees, and the expenses we incurred for the exercise, were placed before the gram sabha. Also, there has been no forgery of the panchayat seal, as alleged. We had made a separate stamp of the panchayat with a separate logo with a tag line ‘Clean and Green Netravali’ only for using it for stamping the receipts printed for the purpose. By no stretch of imagination this amounts to forgery,” Dessai said, stressing that the whole exercise was aimed at shoring up the panchayat’s revenue.

The exercise, however, lasted only for a week – from July 15 to 22. While Rs 20 was charged per head, two-wheelers, four-wheelers and six-wheelers were charged Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 400 respectively. The exercise involved refunding 50% of the amount charged for vehicles to the visitors once the garbage generated by them is handed over to the panchayat at the entry-cum-exit point set up near the panchayat. The local body provided a garbage bag to the visitors for collecting the litter they generated. Besides, a sticker was affixed to the tourist vehicles to help the locals identify the guests and offer them any assistance in the village. In return, the panchayat was to provide parking space, security services and lifeguard services at the waterfalls.

“The forest department charges entry fees from visitors, but the panchayat doesn’t earn revenue. It has failed to provide basic amenities like toilets and changing rooms,” Dessai said.

Deputy sarpanch AbhijitDessai said the panchayat may have erred while implementing the resolution to collect fees, but maintained that there were no irregularities in the whole exercise

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