11 Jul 2024  |   04:49am IST

Is the government failing to plan or planning to fail?

There’s a saying, “Safety is a choice you make and accidents are the choices you ignore.” 

Goa is witnessing incessant rains over the last several days and the downpour has exposed the poor planning, poor quality of works and the collapse of administration during the difficult and most testing times. The rain fury has engulfed the State and the citizens are facing the brunt. It’s not just loss of property but five lives have been lost within just two days of the incessant rains. 

Three labourers died after a retaining wall collapsed trapping them in Kundaim Industrial Estate. One worker also suffered injuries in the incident. In another tragic incident, a mother-son duo died in Neura after a wall of their house collapsed and the two, aged 70 and 50 years respectively, were trapped in the debris. A family in Vasco had a lucky escape when their house wall collapsed. There have been several incidents of roofs blowing 

off, including the recently renovated Khola panchayat ghar in Canacona. 

The National Highway 66 has witnessed three landslides and the protection wall along the highway collapsed at Poroscodem in Naibag, Pernem. In the first incident, a family had a lucky escape as a boulder that rolled down the slope bounced over the car and the retaining wall stopped just couple of feet above the car. In two subsequent landslides, the highway was blocked and traffic had to be diverted. 

On the other hand, there have been landslides at several places along the National Highway 4-A in Ponda taluka. Due to the incessant rains, roads have caved in and the potholes have made the life of motorists difficult as they manoeuvre the roads. 

The poor quality of work in Panjim has been exposed. Potholes and inundation of roads across the capital city have been giving a harrowing experience to people of Panjim as well as commuters visiting the city. Year after year, Panjim faces the same problems and even after eight years of the Smart City project, the city literally grapples in the dark for better infrastructure.  

Kala Academy once again lay bare the claims of State about the renovation of the premium cultural institute and centre. One was witness to ceiling leaking, floors soaked in water and labourers engaged to mop the floor. The Mopa International Airport too witnessed some bizarre scenes of water accumulated at the Airport and then multiple flights were diverted due to the rains. 

The State government has a lot to answer to the people of Goa for failing to provide the much needed protection against losses during yet another year of incessant rains. It is with a sense of shock that people see the functioning of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA). Goa has a unique climatic condition and receives heavy rains and one wonders what different does the SDMA plan for the State of Goa or are they following the same protocol listed as per the Centre. In addition, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) should consider the overall terrain of Goa and accordingly guide the State regarding the possible disastrous effect of the downpour. The IMD has been issuing weather warnings, but unlike the developed countries where the a coordinated effort is seen on the roads by the government agencies in ensuring public safety and minimal damage to property and life, the municipalities, panchayats and State agencies offer no pre-emptive action. The Fire and Emergency services attend to hundreds of emergency calls which can be avoided if proper planning and execution of a management plan is undertaken.  

Why is it that even to this day, the stormwater drains get choked on days when they need to function flawlessly? Be it the Panjim city or other towns and villages, a common flaw across the State has been the lethargic approach to the pre-monsoon maintenance works. If the dangerous trees are cut down and water paths are cleared of obstacles, then the rain water should be able to flow to its destination, that is the rivers and 

sea. There will not be mini ponds developed during a heavy downpour. 

Thus, the question arises, what choices did the government make inorder to avoid a repeat of the annual flooding and damage to the citizens’ properties in the State. Is the government failing to plan or planning to fail every year as monsoon lashes the State and lives are lost and property damaged? 

At the end of the day, the government will continue to function as usual and the citizens will continue to suffer. As Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar