We are almost close to first anniversary of coronavirus 2019. At first except China, none of the world took the virus seriously and almost last to feel the heat was India, Goa was a far cry with our Chief Minister and Health Minister still canvassing for Zilla Parish election bound party candidates and reveling in Shigmo.
Then the “Green Zone” that never was and all that jazz which followed, Margao having the ESI Hospital, Hospicio and the District Hospital -- a live white elephant then and still not 100 per cent commissioned till date, played host to all the government's theatre of the absurd comedies (still ongoing).
Innocent lives were lost, due to lackadaisical approach of the authority. The Margao MLA and Leader of Opposition crawled when asked to bend acting silent agent of the flip flops of the ruling, and threw all cautions to the wind where the healthcare concerns of “Madgaonkars” was concerned. The area where the proposed pay parking project, a highly questionable Rs 3 crore Golden Jubilee Fund (2011) -- by the last outgoing Margao Municipal Council (MMC) to milk the last penny out of the municipality coffers and where the traditional old fish market was situated, has been a bailing station to remediate Sonsoddo waste.
It has been all through the pandemic and monsoon become a dumping ground of city waste, and even those who visit the city for their shopping are seen coolly dumping bags of waste brought from their residences. There is no security or CCTV to monitor further dumping as stray cattle, cats and dogs feast.
During monsoon bottle and house flies had invaded the area by day and mosquitoes by night. Margao has a sorry health legacy of malaria, dengue and other seasonal fevers that do not spare children, yet the sleeping Health authorities of Margao, even in pandemic times, haven't yet woken up from their slumber.
There is no security not security cameras. The 300 years old, heritage -- MMC building is just a stone’s throw away (see in picture), and opposite the dump is the beleaguered Madgaum Urban Co-Operative Bank branch which has many dignitaries who are no secret die-hard BJP Margao or Fatroda Mandal boys. The Margao Residency which housed COVID care patients overlooks the garbage dump which swells every other day.
Recently, Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco was seen buying bread from the cycle bound bakers opposite the MMC building where previously Bar Salcete used to be and where mosquitoes freely fly to hunt blood post sunset. Despite of three MMC wards falling in Curtorim Constituency location, he had his back to the dump.
Calangute MLA and Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo who was recently given an 'unfit' certification by Goa Lokayukta cannot see beyond the lucrative Sonsoddo garbage mountain, which is in fact a cash cow for successive politicos across party lines.
The official Innova Car of Margao MLA, now Leader of Opposition is often seen zooming past by this dump, glasses raised up, mask and visor which perhaps is to save him from the virus but makes him blind to the litter and garbage from which “Madgaonkars” who have consistently posed faith in him for past 26 odd years live with a huge danger of yet another pandemic looming large.
Unlike last year, this year Margao gave Swaccha Bharat annual brooming a miss on Gandhi Jayanthi too. The only hope for the commercial town is the dynamic Chief Officer Agnelo Fernandes who last week took top guard of respect by clearing the encroachments and offering the confiscated fruits, vegetable to orphanages and old age homes -- a highly applauded act for a city that has seen bureaucratic bankruptcy all along.
Meanwhile, Margao continues to sit on a probable health time bomb.