Costa Ground – The MMC Betrayal

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The volte face of two councillors of Aquem – Mrs Sangeeta Audi(Ward No.19) and Shri Laxmikant Kamat(Ward No.18) was treason at its ignominious worst. The former who had on various occasions in the past shouted hoarse from public platforms her anti-builder stance, along with the latter furtively did a ‘U’ turn in the builders favour. The vociferous Pratima Coutinho(Ward No.16) had volunteered support to the Aquemkars- even participated in the candle light procession to denounce the conversion of the costa ground into a concrete jungle. It was nothing short of an “et tu Brute” stab when she raised her hands in favour of the builder. The whole exercise of the Margao Municipal Council in handling the Costa Ground issue was so obvisouly stage-managed/fixed. Our highest appreciation for the two councillors Shri Damu Shirodker(Ward No.20) and Shri Avinash Shirodker(Ward No.17) who stood their ground and stood up for the Aquem cause.

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In a day and age when all thinking and concerned people are lobbying for open spaces, it is sad and disheartening that the so called city fathers of Margao have no qualms about giving the go ahead for a grotesque concrete monstrosity.
In the notification, 10/602/2013-DMA/388 of the Government of Goa gazette dated 6th May 2013 the Directorate of Municipal Administration has announced the F.R.A.N.C.I.S URBAN CONNECT SCHEME 2013(Fair Recreational Activity and non Competitive Involvement in Sports, Urban Connect Scheme 2013). The preamble to the notification states “ Urbanisation has caused deprivation of open spaces to the urban communities who predominantly stay in apartment blocks. For the rural kid, the environment around itself is a playground. But for the Urban counterpart , the opportunity of exposure to air and sunshine is slowly vanishing. Due to confinement in the apartments, the kids while away their time on video games, TV viewing, mobile phones and internet. The impairment of their health as a result is a cause of concern.
The Government understands the limitations of urban communities in getting access to any safe spaces for sport and recreation. Many of the town schools do not have playgrounds to impart physical education or conduct sports activity. Those schools that do not have spaces do not have the resources to develop the facilities and share it with the less fortunate.

To meet this situation and inculcate a strong sports, fitness and recreational culture in the development of the local urban communities, the Government through this scheme intends to connect with the urban population by providing assistance in developing safe play areas. This scheme shall operate within the provisions of the Integrated Development of Major Towns Scheme(IDMT)”

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Now is the time for the people of Aquem to encash on the promises and the commitment of our local MLA and Ex Chief Minister of Goa Shri Digamber Kamat who prides himself on being the son of Aquem. On the many occasions that the people met him in connection with the Costa ground, he reassured them about his strong support in preserving the Costa ground as an open space. To quote him ” I will not allow a single pickaxe to dig up Costa ground for construction”. We also peg our hopes on our Chief Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar. As the Education Minister as well, he will surely endorse our view that for the holistic growth of our children from the schools of Aquem as well as those living in high rise buildings in the thickly populated area, the Costa ground must and should be acquired and preserved as a playground for the citizens of Aquem and their posterity.

By Prof. Joan Rebello..

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