Porvorim, which is in reality a peri-urban area, is bustling at its seams with hectic activity and fast attaining urban status. However, a grievance meeting convened by Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte at Britona recently smacked of the traditional village-level overtones, where the grievances were restricted to issues such as illegal constructions, panchayat inaction on mushrooming illegalities, low voltage, poor street lighting, garbage menace, Porvorim market complex, gardens, playground et al. We are unaware if the issue of stray dogs menace was broached upon, but the matter of concern is the manner the issues were raised and deliberated upon.
Also known as New Panjim, due to the location of Legislative Assembly and several government offices, Porvorim has seen hectic development and construction activity, even on the slopes, which would have been barred since these were identified as open spaces. In the quest for prime space, even designated open spaces have been cornered by unauthorised construction activity!
Porvorim now can boast of hotels, motor car showrooms, a bus depot, staff housing colonies, super centres, government offices, including the North Goa district Consumer Court etc thus putting it on the road to an urbanized area. However, even at this point, planners have failed to learn the lessons of Panjim’s haphazard growth, with roads turning narrower by the day and parking mess proliferating into privately-owned properties.
Porvorim continues to limp with archaic sewage system with sewage tankers disposing human waste, nothwithstanding the fact that septic tanks and water sumps are located cheek-by-jowl, threatening to contaminate drinking water sources of residents. There have been even complaints before the Health Department of neighbours releasing sewage water over the water sumps, triggering complaints before the police and various authorities.
In such a scenario, the issue that needs immediate attention is planning out a sewage network throughout Porvorim. It is queer that successive governments have sat on these matters, despite the lessons of Calangute which is plagued with polluted ground water. Development activity in Calangute began in 1970s, and yet decades later, the beach which was once projected as the number one tourist destination is languishing in poor sanitary conditions.
Does Porvorim need to perform an encore? The main thoroughfare cutting across Porvorim is a virtual death trap for pedestrians, due to speeding motorists who refuse to slow down despite pedestrians waiting to cross over. Sick, old and partly handicapped are forced to hurry across the asphalted stretch because even speed breakers have failed to slow the zooming traffic. There have been several deaths on this stretch. Yet, it has failed to galvanise the government into implementing appropriate initiatives. Parents have pulled out their wards from schools’ extra-curricular activities beyond school hours because of the fear they nurture that their wards would be exposed to while traversing the road.
How many road deaths is the government waiting for before it decides to build a subway, a road under bridge or a flyover? What is the issue that has held back the government from taking some strong pro-people’s safety initiative?
First time MLA Khaunte has an onerous task of determining the real issues plaguing Porvorim and must not only arrive at satisfactory answers, but move the government towards adopting adequate, effective measures. If land acquisition is the issue delaying commencement of work on projects which would improve the quality of life, the State must go ahead with effective plans. There have been positive utterances from the government over land acquisition, specially with the government contemplating offering market rates to land losers. The compensation ought to be so attractive, that residents ought to come forward volunteering their land for acquisition. The package must include increased FAR for existing roadside structures, apart from a hefty compensation package.
Needless to say, Porvorim needs a detailed comprehensive master plan for the next 25 years. Kaunte ought to take up the challenge to ensure that this is done effectively, with the objective that Porvorim’s development is taken as a model for development of similar peri-urban areas of the State.