The questions are being asked as to whether there is no Goan in history who is prominent enough after whom the third Mandovi bridge that was inaugurated on Sunday could have been named. The naming of the bridge had drawn quite a lot of chatter. There were demands from politicians and on the social media that it be named after Dr Jack de Sequeira, the first Leader of the Opposition in Goa, who is also known as the Father of the Opinion Poll. There was also a demand that it be named after Dayanand Bandodkar, the first Chief Minister of Goa, but in the end it was neither of these two, nor any other Goan whose name the bridge has taken.
It is interesting to note that just a few days earlier, when asked after who the bridge would be named after, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar had said naming the bridge would be the prerogative of the Centre, but had not disclosed the name selected. It was only when the people came and gathered for the inaugural ceremony that it came to be known that the bridge would bear the name of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On the backdrop for the inauguration event were the words – Atal Setu and that’s why the questions are being raised.
This, however, is not an isolated incident of State infrastructure bearing the name of a person who is not a Goan. Much of the major infrastructure that has been built in the State has been named after leaders whose connection to Goa has been but fleeting. We have the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, the Rajiv Gandhi Medical Complex in Bambolim, the Shama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Taleigao, and now the Atal Setu in Panjim. Even the State’s medical insurance scheme, introduced just a few months ago, is named after a person who is not a Goan – Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
There are just a few major establishments in the State named after Goans – the Dinanath Magueshkar AC Auditorium and the Krishnadas Shama State Central Library in Panjim, and the Pai Tiatrist Hall and Francisco Luis Gomes District Library in Margao. Interestingly, these are two auditoriums and two libraries, bearing the names of music and theatre personalities and scholars. Other establishments in the State named after Goans are of a minor nature. Compare this with other States. The bridge inaugurated in Delhi in November last and spanning the River Yamuna, connecting Wazirabad to East Delhi has been simply named the Signature bridge. The sea link in Mumbai is called the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the nation’s longest rail-cum-road bridge in Assam is named Bogibeel bridge. Similarly there are various other such bridges and links named after local places or personalities.
Goa, it does appear, has been made an exception when it comes to naming infrastructure projects, but there’s a chance to rectify this, as another bridge is under construction over River Zuari. Can this one be named after a Goan, so that the identity of the land is given its pride of place?
And there’s more. The State is in the process of constructing an international airport at Mopa. That one too will have to be named once it is ready. There are precedents of airports being named after local leaders. The airport in Mumbai, once known as Sahar International Airport was renamed Chattrapathi Shivaji International Airport after the Maratha king. The airport at Kolkata once known as Dum Dum Airport is now the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, the freedom fighter who started the Indian National Army. The new airport at Bengaluru has been named Kempegowda International Airport after the ruler who established Bengaluru as his capital city. With another bridge and an airport coming up, can Goa get the name of one of its local heroes on the board?