Nestled along the banks of the Mandovi, it is a part city part village that does not have a panchayat and is plagued by problems such as water shortages and illegal garbage dumps. Alisha Coelho Pereira takes a ride through the winding roads of Ribandar
If you are bitten by a snake or are suffering from a high fever the nearest place to get treated is either to come to Panjim or visit a private doctor in Old Goa or Corlim. For the residents of Ribandar, which was home to one of Asia first hospitals, their health centre is unable to provide the basic treatment. The present health centre, functions twice a week for three hours but does not even have a thermometer to check temperature.
This is despite administratively the place falls under wards 29 and 30 of the Corporation of the City of Panjim (CCP). However, for the authorities, residents say “They choose to overlook the issues that plague us.”
The hills which were once thick with green foliage, today resembles a concrete jungle. Ribandar based business man Antonio Frois says, “Every week a new construction site crops up and we have huge scarcity of water throughout the week”.
Garbage is another long standing issue that has left the residents fuming. Lawyer and social activist, Aires Rodrigues ,who has raised the issue explains, “People driving from Old Goa to Panjim through the causeway along Mandovi dump their garbage and plastic bags into the river. This has been going on for years. Also the lone garbage unit, which has been placed at Baiguinim, is always overflowing, as it gets cleaned only twice a week”.
With the prices of land sky rocketing and the fourth estate encashing on this growing trend of people moving into three tire cities, construction activity in the hills dotting Ribandar is on rise. Residents allege, “Most of the construction companies are flouting all norms, and there is no check whatsoever of any kind”.
Regular power cuts and fluctuation in voltage is common in Ribandar. Frois adds, “During the power cuts, when we call up, the municipality workers are unable to provide us with a contact number to help solve the electricity issue.”
Since the 1970s, activists have been approaching ministers to set up a football ground for the youth. There is no community hall for the residents either. “Neither have the youth got a ground to play, nor the senior citizens a garden,” says Aires.
Antonio Frios concludes, “I strongly believe that the institution of a working panchayat in Ribandar will solve our problems. Perhaps the villagers need to conduct an agitation, so that the government begins to take us seriously and pays heed to our grievances.”