22 Jan 2021  |   05:09am IST

Letters to the editor (22 Jan 2021)

Letters to the editor (22 Jan 2021)

Govt using COVID as a shield

It needs to be strongly deprecated that the Goa Government which is currently facing a public outcry and unending agitations all over on a host of issues is conveniently citing COVID-19 as a shield to drag and hide behind, wherever possible on non-convenient issues. The latest is the postponement of the municipal elections including that of CCP.  

It is so anguishing that this government during the current pandemic has been officially celebrating every festival and festivity with IFFI 2021 being the latest government sponsored event. Yet, it has been finding a way out when it suits them not to comply with the mandate of law. The government will be judged by the people on its deeds not by their words or mixed messages by choosing to host events for political and personal expediency rather than what is scientifically acceptable and for the common good.

In a democracy, free and fair elections are fundamental. Goa’s State Election Commission (SEC) conducts the election to the Zilla Parishad, Municipalities, Panchayats and the CCP. This one man Commission has to function very independently without any political influence or interference. But sadly this has not been happening.

The SEC is also responsible for the delimitation and reservation of wards for the Panchayat and Municipal elections including that of the CCP. This process should have been completed by now. But it has been a routine to announce the reservations of wards just a few days before the nominations open. This is a very bad and unfair practice as the reservation of wards needs to be done well in advance.

Let us hope that our SEC will act promptly in this regard while not succumbing to any political pressures or maneuvers whatsoever. The delimitation of wards and the reservation of seats cannot be done at the behest of politicians in power. This inherent right is by law always vested wholly with the State Election Commissioner who is duty bound to function strictly within the framework of law.

It has been said that organizing free and fair elections is sacrosanct and more important than the result itself. Abraham Lincoln had rightly opined “The ballot is stronger than the bullet”. And so should it truly be.

Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar

Two steps back

The state government just scrapped the traffic sentinel scheme by which alert citizenry could report traffic violations to law enforcement authorities and thereby keep some semblance of check on offenders via community policing.

The scheme was in cold storage anyway since the past seven months but it's complete abrogation is shocking to say the least. The CM trotted out a lame excuse that it had become a means of steady income for some, conveniently forgetting to mention that after introduction of the 'traffic sentinel' initiative, the government had collected @ Rs 45 lakhs in penalties while the payout to sentinels was only of the order of Rs 10 lakhs.

In effect it was a win-win situation for both, and an additional revenue stream more for the state than the citizens. The government's stand that policing and CCTV cameras shall negate traffic violations is all hogwash, it is pertinent to note that during New Year's eve there was no drive conducted to check drunken driving and hardly any violators were booked.

In a parallel development the state unanimously approved a gross curtailment in the powers of the anti corruption ombudsman, the Lokayukta, probably stung by the previous incumbent who had red flagged many instances of corruption by ministers and public servants.

The Lokayukta cannot anymore conduct independent enquiries without prior sanction of the government, also he/she cannot force ministers or public servants to resign regardless of their guilt being proven in cases regarding nepotism, malfeasance, maladministration, favouritism, embezzlement and other such. Hiring norms for the Lokayukta have also been diluted so that pliable jurists beholden to the powers that be can be appointed.Of what use is adding another cog in the wheel of anti corruption and probity in public life if the wheel itself is jammed. Undermining the judiciary has been a hallmark of the Centre, why make pretences of putting in checks and balances in public life, they might as well scrap the office of the ombudsman and save themselves some money.

Vinay Dwivedi, Benaulim 

Old Goa Development

During the plague the capital of Goa was shifted from Old Goa to Panjim. The government can look into shifting the capital city back to Old Goa during the current pandemic. It also needs to identify lands belonging to the erstwhile Portuguese government in Old Goa and reclaim them. Government Departments can then be shifted here. If not the full city a few departments can be moved to Old Goa to decongest Panjim city. Mission Smart City which is stagnating presently can also be moved here. One can also rename the city as New Goa.

With parking woes in the capital city, it makes sense to shift the capital back to Old Goa. There was once also a large hospital in Old Goa run by the Jesuits. It would be possible to setup a hospital or at least a PHC in the area. It would benefit the people of Old Goa, Carambolim, Corlim, Divar and Ribandar.

Vinay Rodrigues, Margao

Is Mopa Airport destined to cave in?

Is the deafening clamour of the wronged, beginning to reverberate and shatter like the clap of thunder and the bolts of lightening? The issue of the finding of underground caves in Mopa, an exotic plateau abounding in exotic flora and fauna and an United Nations protected zone is not the only matter that the proponents of the illegal airport is to be condemned for. Finding of underground caves denote that the initial survey work was only superficial. The whole concept and intention of having this draconian project is fatally flawed. 

As per the Mopa Vimantal Sangarsh Samiti, only 29,000 square meters of land has been acquired for the project. The rest is all illegal land without paying compensations to the farmers, who anyway did not want the airport which is being thrust upon them. Initially, even the Supreme Court ruled that the trees which number 54,676 have to be transplanted. Is this being done? Or is there wanton felling of trees? 

If the rule book is not being followed than it is better to abandon the project as it is bound to be jinxed as it is a huge usurping by the government, Central and State as well as GMR, which has not followed in letter ans spirit even after the 9-month stalling in the Supreme Court that was valiantly being fought by the Federation of Rainbow Warriors. The falling off of the plastering from the roofs and walls of the new houses built for the Dhangars is also a witness to the sub-standard quality of work implemented. 

The destruction of 46 crystal clear fresh water springs is another aspect that denoted reckless destruction of natural eco-syistems. The secrecy about the work being fast-tracked and banning of opposition to the project are clear indications of rampant disregard to democratic norms. The Mopa villagers should agitate like the courageous villagers of Shel-Melauli and recover their land. The indigenous people of Mopa should not allow government to flout their own laws with impunity. There is a lot in the Mopa airport project that is hidden behind its exterior. The locals of Mopa should garner support from those villagers who are being cheated of their land and abort this ill-conceived project, for which the foundation stone was laid 40 kilometers away fearing black flag protest demonstrations against the prime minister.

Elvidio Miranda, Panjim


Iddhar Udhar