18 Mar 2017 09:39pm IST
SURAJ NANDREKAR, VIBHA VERMA and SHWETA KAMAT
Despite losing heavily in the Assembly Elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party finally formed the government with the help of alliance partners Goa Forward, MGP and three independents. While the alliance has cleared the floor-test 22-16 the real test lies ahead with challenging issues which the Manohar Parrikar-led government has to pay immediate attention to. SURAJ NANDREKAR, VIBHA VERMA and SHWETA KAMAT look into the immediate issues which demand the attention of the alliance
The State has been on a backfoot ever since the mining came to a grinding halt in 2012 following the Justice Shah Commission report on illegal mining.
The mining industry contributed roughly about Rs 2000 cr to the State kitty through royalty and other taxes.
Ever since mining was stopped in 2012, BJP had found it difficult to run the government.
Even though the Supreme Court lifted the ban on mining not many mining companies have started operations due to poor demand.
The economy is far from being back on track
The government did make efforts by levying an entry tax on non-Goan vehicles, increasing VAT on petrol (which had been abolished by Parrikar), increase in stamp duty, etc but those were minor efforts and could not overcome the Rs 2000 cr mining deficit.
Despite this, the BJP continued its schemes and hence the borrowings’ of the state have mounted to nearly Rs 15000 cr.
The government borrowed Rs 1203.23 cr in 2012-13, Rs 1296.62 cr in 2013-14, Rs 1267.36 cr in 2014-15 and Rs 1105.52 cr in 2014-15 (up to December 31). And the budget papers show the State has taken a loan of just Rs 1009 cr in 2015-16.
The loans taken were from the open market, LIC, NABARD, NCDC, PFC, HUDCO, NSSF, Central loans and other ways and means.
Both Vijai Sardesai and Rohan Khaunte, have earlier criticised the government for its mounting debts. They are now in the government and would need the help of schemes and programmes to deliver to their people. It would be interesting to figure out how they help Parrikar to manage the finances.
The reclassification of coconut palm as tree, seems to be first on the platter of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, to please it’s coalition partner Goa Forward which was up in arms against the then Laxmikant Parsekar led government’s decision to declassify the coconut tree.
As assured to its alliance member in the government, Parrikar is expected to withdraw the amendment to the Goa Preservation of Trees Act 2016 that deleted the Coconut tree from the preview of “tree” and classifying it as “grass”.
The decision is expected during the Budget session or in the next cabinet meetings.
Having Goa Forward -- the one that castigated and slammed the then BJP led government’s anti-people and anti-environmental policies – now in alliance, Parrikar is bound to take some ‘surprising’ decisions (surprise for its own party members) to ensure that the coalition remains intact -- in a bid to give stable government to the people of Goa. However on the issue of de-classification of the coconut tree, Manohar Parrikar was firstly not informed by his predecessor and he personally is of the same opinion as Sardesai that the decision as incorrect
If one remembers, it was during Manohar Parrikar’s tenure as Chief Minister from March 2012 to November 2014 that saw Goa putting up a strong case before the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal (MWDT)-involving Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra on the water diversion issue in a bid to ensure that the State interest in protected.
Post that too, under his guidance and an indepth study by Advocate General (now Additional solicitor General) Atmaram Nadkarni - Goa continued to enjoy an edge over its two neighbouring States before the Tribunal.
However, the State received two major setbacks -- Union Ministry withdrawing permission to Nadkarni to appear on behalf of State citing ‘clash of interest’ and the move to set up a single, permanent Inter-State Water Dispute Tribunal (ISWDT) subsuming existing tribunals like MWDT.
Outgoing Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, though sought Prime Ministers intervention in both the matters, failed to get any respite - with uncertainty looming large on the Mhadei water a source of livelihood to nearly 183 villages.
But now, with Parrikar returning back to State politics to lead the Government, there has been a ray of hope- with he clearing the first hurdle within four days of taking over the charge.
In a fresh order, the Union Ministry for Law has revoked its earlier withdrawal order, granting permission to Nadkarni to represent State before the MWDT.
Even then, the biggest challenge before Parrikar continues in form of dissolution of MWDT by merging the same with ISWDT.
The State had managed to win a portion of the battle which is being fought for over a decade now -- when Tribunal in 2014 directed Karnataka not to divert water of Mhadei river till further order (which is still in place) and in 2016, when MWDT declined to accept the Karnataka government’s plea for diversion of 7tmc of water.
Both Government and the agitators -- Mhadei Bacchao Abhiyan -- are of the view that dissolution of MWDT will make a ‘lost case for Goa’.
Though, the State had in January 2016 approached Centre to relax Goa from the ISWDT, it received no response. Hence, now the entire burden remains on Parrikar to ensure that State don’t lose its case. “I will try to protect the interest of the State at any cost,” he had said.
Set up in November 2010, the term of tribunal, is extended up to August 21, 2017.