The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has yet to complete its first 100 days in power and accolades are pouring in from all quarters. Doing a complete volte-face on the medium of instruction (MOI) has of course pleased the minorities (read Catholics) but also silenced the staunch Marathis of the Bharitya Basha Suraksha Mandal (BBSM) like former Chief Minister and daughter of the first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar, Shashikala Kakodkar and other giants like Uday Bembre and Subash Velinkar.
But Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has subtly silenced the likely revolt by distributing sops all around. The biggest sop is to a Mapxekar, Pandurang Nadkarni who has been made Goa Information Commissioner. A former principal of a high tech school in Mapuça he was made Chairman of the Goa Board of Education during Parrikar’s earlier stint as Chief Minister
Another Mapxekar, businessman Dattaprasad Kholkar has been appointed Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. What is his experience in the field of planning? Giving Ministerial status to the post itself, was done by Parrikar in his earlier stint and many feel the nominal post is a drain on the exchequer. As a wag put it the only plum is a vehicle with red lights to ride in.
Instead of pleasing Mapxekars why does he not focus on the city itself. I have been shouting hoarse about the misdeeds of commission and omission in the last few decades. Earlier, the excuse was that BJP MLA Francis ‘Babush’ D’Souza did not have the support of the Congress Government. Now he is very nearly Deputy Chief Minister, so why can’t he and Parrikar put their heads together to bring this first city of Bardez to its former prestige ? The time is right now.
The ‘new market’ which was the pride of North Goa in the 1960s, is a shadow of its former self. Two-wheelers worm their way around rubbing shoulders with pedestrians and creating constant chaos. On Fridays it is impossible to even move freely. Excuses are given that supply trucks have to deliver the goods. Can’t it be done before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.? If they can put some order during Ganesh Chaturthi why can it not be done the whole year round ?
Parking is also a major problem. The vehicles have increased and multiplied thrice as fast as humans and scant respect is paid to the blocks for pedestrians to get to the footpaths. Scooters are parked right in the gap, by ‘unpads’. What a crying shame for folks who have more money than brains. It is like living at the end of civilization. As for the traffic cops, they search for the shade and are conspicuous by their absence at high noon.
There was talk of having a parking lot bear the Kadamba bus stop but to date it hasn’t progressed from the “talk’ stage. Like the non-existant drainage system which I have been hearing since my school days.
The fish market is in dire states and if one can still stand on two feet after buying the fish, it is an achievement. This, during the dry season for over a year. What about buying fish during the monsoon. May be going with a hook, line and sinker is a better option.
To come back to the MoI, FORCE has welcomed the decision. ”We hail the wisdom that has prevailed,” says its president Premanand Naik, while secretary Savio Lopez is adopting a ‘watch and wait’ policy. “We have to see the implications of the decision of the ban on more English medium schools,” he added.
The other opposition to the MoI has been Prashant Naik of the Konkani Basha Mandal (BKM) who calls it a volte-face but it is too feeble a voice that is lost in the wilderness.
Parrikar has much more on his plate and it will not be easy to please the different lobbies. It is apparent that he is nursing the casinos lobby which apparently supported him during the elections, After being so vociferous against it, he has not only kept mum but has also reduced the entrance fee from Rs 200 to Rs 50 and he tries to justify that by increasing the licences of the casinos.
But it makes no sense. By reducing the entrance fee he is sure to get more youngsters to take to gambling. Or else just ban the locals from gambling as is the case in Kathmandu. Without being prude one must say the presence of casinos tends to discourage family tourism.
Parrikar too has not distributed his portfolios wisely. It was expected that he would make Avertano Furtado Sports Minister in order to counter the clout of the Alemaos in South Goa. But this did not happen. But mining will be a major issue as it has not been curbed for decades. Whether it was the few Goan families like the Dempos, Salgaonkars and Chowgules or later on the benamii operators it has not been reduced one bit. Whether the quality of the ore is poor or not it has been finding its way though our ports. Even Karnataka has been exporting from Mormugao. The barges keep moving down the Mandovi uninterruptedly.
Only recently Simon D’Souza, chairman of Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) said that “more than half the firms which were issued show cause notices for excess ore production and environmental clearances are likely to face action by the Board.
Over 48 mining companies were issued notices in April, earlier this year, following directions by the High Court. D’Souza goes on to say “we have given them enough time. The failure to respond proves that they have nothing to defend and admits to violated the norms.” The documents submitted by the companies would be scrutinized before calling them for personal hearings.
But does the GSPCB have enough teeth to see that action is taken ? Or are these empty threats ? It will be a tight-rope walk for Parrikar who should know that just as you cannot please all the people all the time, you cannot fool (red throw dust in their eyes) all the people all the time. The equalizer will come sooner or later. And this does not happen only in football or hockey.