The redistribution of portfolios to the ministers may have made a few of his cabinet colleagues unhappy, but Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant has held his ground and refused to bow down to the demands of his ministers.
He delayed the order, but did not make the changes. The portfolios have been allocated, and it is now time for the ministers to get down to the business of governance, that Goa has been lacking for over a year. With another department, the workload of each minister has now increased and with almost half the term over, there is little time for them to prove their mettle.
Vishwajit Rane who has been given the Industry portfolio, in addition to Health, has the major challenge of not just attracting investment to the State but getting such industry that will offer employment to the local youth. It is a fact that the industry in Goa is not tuned in to the talent that is available, leading to jobs being offered to people from outside the State at the expense of the local youth. This is what Rane will have to change. At the same time he has to balance the environmental concerns that have been raised regarding industry so that what Goa gets are non-polluting units, that will complement the environment.
Forest Minister Vijai Sardesai has the unenviable task of increasing the forest cover, taking forward the tiger reserve proposal, giving the forest dwellers their rights and ensuring that the mining sector does not encroach upon forest land. The tasks don’t end there for Sardesai, who already holds the Town and Country Planning Department as well as Agriculture. In effect, Sardesai is now the custodian of all the Goan land resources and he cannot let down the State in doing his job to save it all for future generations. The demands to protect the land from the Goans will have to be met by the Goa Forward part president.
Nilesh Cabral who now holds the Environment Department has his task cut out for him in protecting the State’s fragile eco-system, while Mauvin Godinho, who held panchayats, and has now been entrusted with Transport as well, will have to work nights to improve the transport system. Mediating with the taxi operators and streamlining their operations has to be high on his to-do list.
It is, however, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant who has the most varied of challenges seeing he has retained the portfolios of Home, Finance, Education and Mining. Each of these will require his undivided attention as each in its own way has numerous complications. Resumption of mining activities is the number one task in the Mines Department. This will not be easy to start, as the legal compulsions won’t be easy to surmount. In Education the first task is giving permanent closure to the medium of instruction issue that has been resurrected constantly and also to improve the standard of education in the State to make the youth more competitive at national entrance tests.
In the Home Department maintaining the law and order is always a task that keeps the minister busy, but here the Chief Minister has to also effectively sail the offshore casino vessels from the River Mandovi. That’s a demand of the residents of Panjim, and promise from the newly elected MLA, but it is the Chief Minister who will have the final say in the matter. Besides, with mining operations at a halt and tourism not showing signs of a major growth, revenue generation for the State exchequer will require some out of the box thinking on the part of the Chief Minister. The government is now on track, the people expect results, and they expect them fast.