Panjim: Accusing the BJP-led State government for adopting a discriminatory standard operating procedure (SOP) for domestic and international travelers coming to Goa, the united opposition on Tuesday demanded and urged the Chief Secretary (CS) for a separate SOP for the State, that will do away with the paid quarantine for Goan seafarers, who return back to Goa.
The opposition MLAs, including Goa Forward Party's Vijai Sardesai, Jayesh Salgaonkar and Congress' Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, presented two separate memorandums to CS Parimal Rai on the SOP and sought to know the State’s preparedness in ensuring the safety and public health of Goans at large within the State in view of the sudden spike in the number of case.
The opposition said Goa has seen a sudden and unwarranted spike in COVID-19 cases in the last few days, which has led to a lot of anxiety, fear and apprehensions amongst the people over various issues.
In their series of demands, the MLAs urged the government to desist from charging any repatriated Goan, returning from abroad, whether seafarers or non-seafarers, any fees for health related measures such as testing, quarantine, etc in adherence to the WHO mandated International Health Regulations 2005 and humanitarian laws.
They have also demanded that the government immediately makes public the “Rescue and Repatriation Plan” and the revised SOP in lieu of the revised guidelines of Union Ministry of Health, for Goans stranded around the world.
Speaking to media persons post the meeting, Sardesai accused the Pramod Sawant-led government of discriminating against ethnic Goans and instead offering a red carpet to non-Goans entering the State during the lockdown.
“It is very shameful how our sons of soils are being treated. On their return to the state, Goans employed on ships had to pay for their stay at some quarantine facilities as well as testing, while non-Goans were put up at free quarantine centres,” former deputy chief minister said. "Why is this treatment being meted out to Goans? Why such discrimination? We demand that quarantine facilities be made free of cost," he added.
The delegation also demanded that the State government should provide a "white paper" on Goa's preparedness to tackle any further spike in the cases.
Congress MLA Reginaldo further pointed out that several Goans, especially those in the Middle East, had lost their jobs and wanted to come back.
"These people are living in the camps, as they have lost their jobs. They should be brought back on priority," Reginaldo added.