15 Mar 2023  |   05:59am IST

Letters to the editor ( 15 March 2023)

Let Goa rise like a phoenix from ashes

The spate of wildfires in Goa has wreaked major damage to the State’s flora and fauna and at the moment it should be the focus to douse the fires as urgent basis as possible. Our hearts go out to the valiant fire-fighters, Navy, Air Force and the gallant volunteers, who are making a determined effort to contain the blazes. Although unlikely, the rain God may oblige to extinguish the wildfires. It is utterly devastating to know that 100-year-old trees and the woodpeckers’ nests have been destroyed in the blazes raging across the State. Goa should make it a pledge to rise from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix by mass replantation of trees. Though it is a tall order, it is possible, if the people of Goa are determined to restore the trees and to wean back the birds and the other fauna back to our wildlife sanctuaries and forests.

Elvidio Miranda, Panjim

Clear pending files 

The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast that the heat wave in Goa will continue till May due to which people will experience extreme hot weather conditions and rise in maximum temperature. In view of the long duration of the heat wave, the Revenue Department of Goa government  in a communication has requested  the government departments to take mitigation measures and has sent them a list of Dos and Don’ts prepared by the Goa State Disaster Management Authority for wide publicity at the grass root level to mitigate its  impact.   One of the safety measures in the said list of Dos and Don’ts, which people are advised to take is avoid going out in the hot sun that may cause a heat stroke. Therefore, it is imperative now that the Heads of government departments and offices strive to clear the files and applications of the public promptly and not compel them to visit their offices time and again to enquire about their pendency.

Rodney de Souza, Assagao

Fire lighters have overtaken fire fighters

It is well over a week and the inexplicable fires in Goa are raging with our natural habitat being eternally destroyed and laid to rest. Those vicious perpetrators of this man-made ecological disaster will never be forgiven. They may get away with their political blessings, but the Almighty will never spare these thugs from that ruthless punishment that they will have to endure for having dared to violate our dear Mother Nature. Is it not ironic that none of those hills and fields owned by the politicians in power has caught fire? Is it not a skewed politically motivated heat wave?

The Goa government being hand in gloves with those vested interests, its promise of a probe may be a whitewash as usual for public consumption that no one will ever believe.

It is very disturbing that for over a week, the law enforcement authorities have been unable to apprehend those responsible. Our fire-fighters are doing a commendable job, but it is the politically motivated fire lighters that are getting away with such a heinous crime against our Mother Nature.  We need to protect our forests and the environment from these man instigated fires.

Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar

Need to replenish burnt forests 

Raging fires continue to give anxious moments to authorities with five fires still active. Goa reported sporadic fires in wildlife sanctuaries, government forests, private areas, comunidade land, plantations, etc. The good news is that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted light rainfall and thundershowers for the next few days. The 

rains will hopefully help douse the forest fires in areas which are inaccessible. 

It is understood that the leader of the opposition in Goa  has demanded that the government declare the forest on government land, which has been scorched due to the recent fire incidents as ‘No Development Zone’ and should not allow the conversion of the said land to settlement zones or for eco-tourism projects. It seems prudent to have a high-level enquiry as well as a scientific study into the recent fire incidents to find out the reason for the same. But most importantly the government needs to replenish the forests, which have been lost due to the fire. A massive tree-plantation drive needs to be conducted in the fire-affected areas. 

We may not be able to bring back the wildlife that has been lost due to the fire. However, in replenishing the forests by growing trees we can be sure that the wildlife will thrive again and the move will also prevent the land mafia from converting it into concrete jungles.

Adelmo Fernandes, 


Women in judiciary

Gender equality in legal profession is spoken about quite often but not as vocally as the matter deserves. Worldwide, the presence of women in the judiciary as well as the legal profession is quite low as compared to their male counterparts.  The International Day for Women Judges was observed on March 10.  In Indian High Courts, the presence of women judges is quite less---11.5 percent only.  

The Supreme Court has three women among the 34 judges. Countrywide, women lawyers constitute a mere 17 per cent of the total lawyers. Recently, Justice B V Nagarathna of the Supreme Court batted for more judges at the entry level and in the higher judiciary.  

It is believed that women judges bring with them different approaches and thought processes.  They are more dialogue-oriented and sensitive to human rights.  Their outlook towards a case at hand may widely vary than the male judges. The confidence of a woman litigant is bound to increase if there are more women judges in a court. Both the government and the judiciary should ensure better representation of women at all levels of judiciary. 

More States should permit reservation for women at the lower judiciary.  Even during elevations to higher courts, the merit of a woman candidate should be balanced considering all aspects including the never-ending male domination in a patriarchal society. 

Ganapathi Bhat, Akola

Centre’s ODF claims hyperbolic

The latest Multiple Indicator Survey (MIS) released by the Central government disputes its own claim made in October 2019 that the all Indian villages were ‘open defecation-free’. 

It raised several questions over the process of declaration and verification of ODF status in India. The underlying casteism, especially of the incidents of Dalit children in villages often lynched for relieving themselves in open defied the government’s claims. Since the scale of the exercise was much larger in rural India, this analysis was restricted to the Swachh Bharat Mission. 

Though the SBM has achieved much more than all previous schemes aimed at improving the state of rural sanitation, the claims about the extent to which India is open defecation-free are definitely hyperbolic. SBM database shows that all villages had declared themselves ODF and 90% of villages had undergone first-level verification. The authenticity of the information contained in this database is questionable. But even if we were to take it at face value, the performance is not as worthy as the Centre had claimed. In Odisha, for instance, only 51% of villages had gone through the first level of verification. 

In fact, Bihar had carried out first-level verification only in 58% of its over 38,000 villages. Activist Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karamchari Andolan said that the SBM was an anti-poor project. He raised a valid question: “India has around 90-lakh homeless people, and therefore how can the country be open defecation-free?”  PM Modi needs to answer.

Ranganathan Sivakumar, Chennai