THE GRAND GOVERNMENTAL SHRUG by Joaquim Correia-Afonso, Benaulim.

The print media of Goa had highlighted how the late Alban Couto’s work, even two years after his death in June 2009, has received only “a grand governmental shrug”.  The late IAS officer was the first Development Commissioner of Goa. Later he served as advisor to the governor during President’s rule and was also advisor to the Goa government. Before and after his stint in Goa, he served in Bihar, Delhi, Chennai and even in London, in the Commonwealth Secretariat. Lately, he had been appointed Chairman of the Goa State Finance Commission.
Couto always maintained an active interest in issues related to Goa, and had put forward many proposals and recommendations for implementation of projects for the benefit of Goa and Goans.
According to the media, Couto, while on a holiday in 2004, having come to know, that officials of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) were in Delhi, approached them and convinced the officials to visit Goa. After two years of discussions, at his own home, which was made to serve as his office, he managed, in 2007, a proposal to bring to Goa an over Rs. 1000 crore JICA project to augment and modernize water supply and set up sewerage systems. Government delayed this initiative for which Couto toiled tirelessly and It is only recently that the state has launched five of the over 20 packages included in the project.
While in Macau on official work, in 2006, Couto had submitted a proposal to set up biodegradable waste management facilities in two main cities – Panaji and Vasco. This being a project that would benefit the people, the “government for the people” promptly rejected it. And we have still not solved the problem of waste management. Apparently, land acquisition for waste “disposal” is more profitable, therefore the proposal for waste “management” was promptly shot down.
As Chairman of the second Goa State Finance Commission, Couto submitted the report in December 2007. The recommendations included functions and responsibilities of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies as mandated under Articles 243G and 243W of the Constitution and the devolution of financial powers.
You all must have noticed that anything to do with increase or devolution of administrative and financial powers to the local self-government bodies, or with grass-roots governance, is taboo to our legislators, who want to retain the power in their hands and keep the local bodies under their thumb. The fact that the report has not yet been tabled in the Legislative Assembly, therefore, comes as no surprise. After so many years, it is more likely that government will term it as irrelevant now.
These same legislators are likely to come to our door just before the next elections due next year, if not earlier, seeking our votes to perpetuate their political circus and increase family representation in the Legislature. With proposals for pro-people projects being given “a grand governmental shrug”, it is high time we the people give the perpetual vote seekers “a grand people’s shrug”.
The print media of Goa had highlighted how, the late Alban Couto, who passed away a little over two years ago, had put forward many proposals and recommendations for implementation of projects for the benefit of Goa and Goans, but the same received only “a grand governmental shrug”.
The IAS officer always maintained an active interest in issues related to Goa, right up to his death in June 2009.
He was the first Development Commissioner of Goa. Later he served as advisor to the governor during President’s rule and was also advisor to the Goa government. Before and after his stint in Goa, he served in Bihar, Delhi, Chennai and even in London, in the Commonwealth Secretariat. Lately, he had been appointed Chairman of the Goa State Finance Commission.

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