We elect wrong people to lead us
In the mid 1970s, I had invited the then Chief Minister of Goa, Ms Shashikala Kakodkar for being the chief guest for the inauguration of the first YMCA in Goa. During the function I addressed, I had appealed to the then CM regarding the need to have planned development using tourism and agriculture as our core sectors for development, which has to be reflected in our development plans and manifestos. The next day, the CM invited me to be a member of the Manifesto Committee which had a vision and the mission contents.
Needless to assert, it is thereafter that Tourism became the core sector driving Goan economy, with Pratapsingh Rane as the Chief Minister. In earlier bygone times, manifestos had its sanctity and were implemented in letter and spirit. However, in recent times, manifestos have become a butt for jokes. Let us look at Panjim by itself. Since the last 20 years, the much talked about St Inez Creek has been transformed from being a water body in a cess pool of sewage.
There were ambitious plans and the JNNURM missions and today the Imagine Panjim projects. Hundreds of crores of central fund had to be returned to the centre, unutilised and unrecognised. Now 2022 elections would be held in a few months and yet again, Panjimites would miss the bus towards development and prosperity. Sadly, we elect wrong people to lead us and residents suffer.
Joe D’Souza, Panjim
Are we prepared for the 3rd wave?
Is our Government well-equipped with medical facilities for its 15 lakhs population? We all have seen how our Health Department struggled in the second wave to give proper beds to their patients in the hospitals, where many received their treatment on the stretchers and many on the floor, while thousands who did quarantine at home, some succumbed before admission.
Our Health Minister and learned CM are vociferous in stating that they are prepared for the COVID third wave. May I ask them with what are they prepared fairy wand? With the ongoing Ganesh Chaturthi celebration, election rallies, tourist inflow and now with the idea of opening of casinos, social distancing and wearing of masks are just an eyewash.
Many who enter Goa with their own vehicles in the early hours still go unchecked for Covid negative tests. God save Goa and its people from these ruling demons.
Anthony Fernandes, Assagao
Unity intriguing in access to chapel
Calangute, the famous beach village, usually known for parties, is now buzzing over religious reasons. A builder has blocked the reach of the public to a chapel, but what surprised me the most was how the people have united to win the war and brought the panchayat to the ground. Keep aside the time left for elections, the sarpanch yesterday called out an impromptu inspection which shows the power of a strong village. We have to learn from the people of this village.
When the government planned to give the village a so-called urban tag it was defeated by the united villagers.
Even when a girl from another village was found dead on their shore, they came together and raised the chorus bringing many more together. Yesterday, falling to the pressure from the villagers, the sarpanch had an impromptu site inspection, held a meeting, placed the report on the table and even passed a resolution to issue a show-cause notice to the builder for blocking the access to the chapel. The sarpanch also spoke about the rules defied by the builder. The is public power. We all need to take inspiration from the villagers of Calangute. The way they fought the battle and gained a result within a couple of days was intriguing. Unity is key here!
Varun Vaz, by email
The fig leaf of ‘National Security’
In the latest developments over L'affaire Pegasus, the Centre, though previously agreeing to file a detailed affidavit before the Supreme Court, has not surprisingly backtracked. Citing fears of compromising national security the Solicitor General of India resolutely stuck to the stand that interception is not illegal, instead the Centre has proposed constituting a committee of domain experts to look into and then submit a report on what it terms as mere 'technical issues'.
An exasperated Chief Justice went so far as to admonish the government to stop beating about the bush and avowed that the bench shall pass an interim order anyhow. It is getting increasingly clear with the sarkar's evasive replies and its audacity to refuse divulging information to the apex court that the citizenry's fears are not unfounded. The brazenness with which the Centre has stonewalled the judiciary, the parliament and civil society's demands a fair probe trotting out the lame excuse of breaching 'national security' is disconcerting and shall set a precedent for the future. That it has not initiated legal proceedings against NSO, the supplier of the military grade software while other nations affected have already instituted probes further strengthens the belief that something is truly amiss.
The greater fear here is that the Centre shall take recourse to such tactics to avoid accountability over any issue concerning citizens, the chimera of 'national security' shall be a convenient fig leaf to impinge upon and trample fundamental rights of people, especially those who are not in consonance with the ruling dispensation's ideology. From a vibrant democracy the country has metamorphosed into a 'deep state', and eventually shall be subsumed by the executive.
Vinay Dwivedi, Benaulim
Provide better facilities for tourists
Annually crores of tourists, both domestic and international, visit the many famous sites and places in India. Although the ongoing pandemic has drastically reduced the footfalls yet people take a break to move around. The government supposedly spends a huge amount of money to build facilities near tourist spots. But at most places there are no toilets, drinking water, CCTV and cops/security, parking space, etc. Even if some utilities are present these are badly maintained or in run down conditions. For e.g., in Goa at Anjuna and Baga beaches there are good facilities but at Chapora Fort except for a large parking space at the foothill there are no facilities.
Along the lines of Blue Flag Certification for beaches, the Ministry of Tourism could come up with guidelines about essential amenities to be provided to the tourists by every State. Some of the facilities could vary depending on the type of tourists’ spots. Some of the services could be outsourced so that the State gets some money and the local people get employment.
Sridhar D’Iyer, Caranzalem
Tar-nishing the coast
The North Goa coastline has regularly been swamped by tar balls, of late a similar phenomena has been recorded on the South coast too. Tarballs are essentially clumps of solidified crude oil discharged from ships on the high seas that get washed up on the shores due to tidal currents. They not only mar the beauty of the beach but also significantly impact marine life. The current practice of disposing off this blight in the fields or burying them in sand by the department of tourism makes matters environmentally worse by damaging oxygenation of the soil.
Experts have opined that these balls can be used for tarring of roads, filling potholes or should be compressed into blocks which can be later used for light weight masonry. Temporary removal of tarballs by is not a long-term solution instead the State should push for action by the Union Environment Ministry either through legislation or diktat.
Rekha Sarin, Benaulim