DESTROYER OF PANJIM

FILTH: If Panjim has slipped in the ranking of clean cities from 16th to 90th it is because Parrikar destroy the Curca garbage dump. So much so, though garbage is collected from every home it is dumped all over the city for want of a waste treatment plant

During the 20 years that Manohar Parrikar has been MLA of Panjim he has destroyed Panjim. He destroyed the Curca garbage dump leaving no home for Panjim garbage. He destroyed the Dayananad Bandodkar Stadium at Campal. He destroyed the Mandovi river by permitting casinos to berth in the river and cars to park opposite the old secretariat. Parrikar does not deserve a sixth term

By Rajan Narayan

WITH the Panjim MLA, Sidharth Kuncalienker of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) resigning his seat, it is now certain that Manohar Parrikar will be contesting from Panjim for the 6th time. He was first elected to the legislative assembly in 1997, which means he has been representing the Panjim Assembly constituency for over two decades excepting for a brief spell when he went to Delhi as the Defence Minister.

Even when he was Raksha Mantri, Manohar Parrikar was doing back-seat driving, coming down to Goa every week and very often in between also, as he missed his xit kodi. During the last 20 years, besides being the MLA of the Panjim constituency, Parrikar has also been chief minister on three occasions. Despite which he has done nothing for the city of Panjim, the capital of Goa, which has sunk in cleanliness rankings from 16th during Digambar Kamat’s tenure as chief minister to 90th in the latest survey conducted by the Union Ministry for Urban Development.

BIG DREAMS

MANOHAR Parrikar the Panjim MLA, and subsequently the chief minister, has had fancy plans which only contributed to aggravating the problems of Panjim. Parrikar decided to convert the Panjim Municipal Council into the Corporation of the city of Panjim. It was his dream that Panjim would become a large corporation, if not like Mumbai, atleast as big as Pune. A corporation which would include Merces, Santa Cruz, Ribandar, Bambolim and even Porvorim across the river. At that time the Taleigao Panchayat was part of the Panjim Municipal Council. The rationale behind converting the municipal council into a corporation was that the latter could borrow money from financial institutions for developmental programmes. But neither the MLA of Santa Cruz or St Andre or Calangute, of which Porvorim was a part, were willing to surrender their control over their areas of influence. On the contrary Babush Monserrate blackmailed Parrikar into reverting Taleigao to the status of a panchayat over which he would have total control. The result was that greater Panjim, including Taleigao, which had a population of almost 40,000 shrank into a small town of only 20,000.

Waste Multiplying

SHOPPING HELL: The garbage lining the roads in parts of Panjim are just symptoms of the underlying cabcer of filth and negligence that has infected Panjim increasingly over the past 20 years
SHOPPING HELL: The garbage lining the roads in parts of Panjim are just symptoms of the underlying cancer of filth and negligence that has infected Panjim increasingly over the past 20 years

PARRIKAR not only failed to solve the then existing problems of Panjim but made things worse. When the CCP was founded,  Panjim under the dynamic leadership of the young Sanjit Rodrigues was the first to start door to door collection of garbage. It was the first city in Goa to start segregation of garbage at source by introducing the two bin system. It was the first city to encourage Co-operative Societies to set up composting plans  for wet garbage and depots for dumping of dry garbage. I recall the large plastic dump next to the Miramar beach. But then the garbage which was collected had a home in the form of the Curca dumping site. When Parrikar decided to shift the Mapusa garbage to Curca it collapsed, and Panjim was left with no home for its garbage. Since then the Panjim garbage has been like the migrants, moving from open space to open space, including even the parade ground which is next to the Campal hospital and the home science college. Maybe Parrikar wanted to give home science college students practical training how to deal with garbage.

IFFI MADNESS

PARRIKAR did not just take away the home of Panjim garbage. He added to not only the garbage but the parking and other problems of Panjim city. Until 2003, at least the area between the Mandovi hotel and the Miramar junction was a relatively peaceful area. The pressure on the infra structure had reduced following the shifting of the Goa Medical College to Bambolim and the secretariat from Adil Shah Palace to Porvorim. Parrikar then dropped his mother of all bombshells by insisting that Goa should become the permanent venue of IFFI. But instead of creating infra structure for IFFI outside Panjim in Bambolim or Dona Paula as they have done much later in the form of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium, Parrikar was adamant that all the IFFI infra should be close to the Kala Academy.

Parrikar did not create anything for the residents of Panjim. Instead he destroyed the old Panjim market to make way for Inox which was needed to screen films for IFFI. Parrikar destroyed the oldest and the most popular football stadium in Panjim as he wanted to use the area for infrastructure for IFFI. The stadium was destroyed but no permanent structure replaced it. It has never really been used for IFFI except on a couple of occasions when a huge air conditioned tent to accommodate 5,000 people was built for just 10 days at the cost of over `5 crore to satisfy Parrikar’s egoistic desire to hold IFFI in Panjim. In the wake of IFFI, Parrikar also started the organisation of various other events like the Grape Escapade and the Food Festival and other mega events in Panjim.

DESTROYED: manohar Parrikar destroyed the historic Dayanand Bandodkar Staduim in Cmapal to build a convention hall for IFFI as Kala Academy had a capacity of less than 1000 seats. instead hinmdreds of crores were spent in setting up huge temporary air conditioined tents for ten days for the opening and closing ceramoinies.
DESTROYED: Manohar Parrikar destroyed the historic Dayanand Bandodkar Stadium in Camapal to build a convention hall for IFFI as Kala Academy had a capacity of less than 1000 seats. instead hundred of crores were spent in setting up huge temporary air conditioned tents for ten days for the opening and closing ceremonies.

IFFI increased the pressure on the narrow roads of Panjim. IFFI and Inox which became a permanent fixture attracted hundreds of cars and two wheelers 24×7 and added to the traffic congestion in Panjim. With the shifting of the office of the ESG to the old office of the dean of the GMC and holding Film Festivals and other events there he worsened the parking problem in the area. Under the excuse of beautification, Parrikar destroyed all the underground sewage and water pipelines which took several years to repair.

Long before Parrikar became the chief minister,  in fact before he became the MLA, Panjim was a peaceful and quiet city. The St Inez creek was there but it did not create as big a problem as it has now. This is because there were no big building on the banks of the creek, unlike now when you have the Taj Vivanta, the Caculo Mall and Vintage Hospital, not to mention the office of the Formento group of publications which includes the Goan and Prudent Media. All the new structures have been compounded by permitting eight and 10 story buildings along the Dona Paula-Miramar bypass.

CAMPAL CREEK: A nallah of garbage? Nothing new for panjimites who have gron used to seeing garbage everywhere.
CAMPAL CREEK: A nallah of garbage? Nothing new for panjimites who have gron used to seeing garbage everywhere.

Before Parrikar became an MLA and the chief minister, Panjim was a city which had few parking problems. Panjim was a city where you could walk on broad footpaths without fear of being run over. After IFFI and the mall and all the other huge commercial structures, it is impossible to find parking in Panjim city. Traffic has become so heavy that senior citizens cannot cross the roads near the Miramar circle or even near Magsons. It may be recalled that the late Damasio Rebello, father of Dr Oscar Rebello, died in a hit-and-run accident near Magsons. In another accident, a young lady working for Manipal Hospital killed a young migrant labourer because she was drunk when she ran over the boy on the pavement. Parrikar may have created a multi-car park (which unfortunately nobody wants to use) but he has failed to fix and in fact has escalated the traffic woes of the people of Panjim.

CASINO CONGESTION

PARRIKAR is not satisfied with choking the roads of Panjim, particularly the roads around the market. He had also been responsible for destroying the Mandovi river. When Parrikar became the chief minister, there was only one casino, the Caravela, in the Mandovi river. Now there are six casinos berthed in the Mandovi river. These casinos do not affect only transport or barges, ferries and cruise boats, they also create traffic jams near the Mandovi hotel circle and the old secretariat, because the entry point on the jetties for going to the offshore casinos is near the Mandovi Riviera, opposite the old secretariat petrol pump. So the thousands of gamblers park their cars all along the stretch from the captain of ports jetty to the Patto bridge which makes it difficult for people of Panjim to go out or return to Panjim because it creates huge traffic jams, and even worse, makes it impossible for them to find parking in that part of Panjim to run their own everyday errands.

The voters of Panjim have re-elected Manohar Parrikar again and again. They have elected him five times in the past. They should ask themselves what he has does for the city of Panjim before they vote for him again. They should ask him why he has not able to solve the garbage problem of Panjim. Why he has not been able to clean up the St Inez nallah? Why he has not been able to shift the floating casinos from the Mandovi river? Why his government has been giving permission for the destruction of heritage areas of the capital city? Why has Panjim being neglected despite being represented by the chief minister of Goa?

TAKEN FOR GRANTED?

CONGESTION: The traffic jam caused by the six casinos parked in the Mandovi River extends to the banks of the Mandovi on the Panjim side, as gamblers park their cars all day long.
CONGESTION: The traffic jam caused by the six casinos parked in the Mandovi River extends to the banks of the Mandovi on the Panjim side, as gamblers park their cars all day long.

IS IT a case of ghar ki murgi, dal barabar? Does Parrikar take the people of Panjim for granted because they believe he is honest and committed to good governance? He may be committed to solving the problems of Michael Lobo in Calangute by creating a state-of-the-art waste management plant in Saligao. Why has he not been able to create a waste management plant in Baigani in Ribander even though the land has been acquired and all the clearances have been obtained? Parrikar has solved the problems of Margao by creating a waste treatment plant in collaboration with Formento. But why does he not ask Fomento, whose chairman stays in Panjim, to set up a waste management plant in Panjim.

Parrikar has been talking about decongesting Panjim. He has been talking about moving IFFI to Dona Paula near the International Centre for the last three years. Till 2014 he had the excuse that he could not get funds because the Congress was ruling at the Centre. Now his own government led by Narendra Modi, in which he was Defence Minister, is ruling Delhi. Since IFFI is organised by the Union Information Ministry surely Parrikar can get funds for creating infra structure of a permanent nature for IFFI outside Panjim so that the people of the capital city will not be harassed?

Parrikar represents the Centre in Goa and in Panjim. He should set an example of Swachh Panjim – which means removing the encroachments on the St Inez nallah, which means cleaning up the St Inez nallah, which means supporting the CCP instead of fighting with it just because the mayor is not part of the BJP. Panjim does not mean rope-ways or a metro. Panjim does not need fancy hop-on hop-off double decker buses. Panjim does not need a fancy jetty at Kala Academy. Panjim wants peace and cleanliness and freedom from the mess that Parrikar has created  over the last 20 years as MLA and chief minister. Surely if Babush can create wide roads and a garbage dump for Taleigao village, the all powerful IIT educated chief minister who can carry out surgical strikes should be able to tackle as simple a problem as finding a garbage dump and setting up a waste management plant. Panjim can do without IFFI. It can do without food and fashion festivals. But it cannot do without cleanliness. Because the filth in Panjim has been affecting the health of the residents of the capital city for too long now.

BABUSH-PARRIKAR SETTING

MUCH was expected from young Sidharth Kuncalienker who had worked closely with Manohar Parrikar when he was chief minister. Sidharth who is an air conditioning engineer by training and son of former St Andre Congress MLA Shripad Naik, had attached himself to Parrikar right from the time he became an MLA in 1994. He was the number one chamcha of Parrikar willing to do whatever his master wanted him to do. I recall him as a quiet unassuming young man better known as the husband of Sonia Kuncalienker, General manager of Prudent Media.

All that changed when Parrikar returned to power and Sidharth was appointed Vice Chairman of the Goa State Infra-Structure Development Corporation (GSIDC). This was an important posting as all major development projects such as the third Mandovi bridge,  and the concretisation of the Dona Paula-Miramar bypass was entrusted to GSIDC. The GSIDC was also given the responsibility to build new hospitals in Mapusa and Margao to replace Asilo and Hospicio. The GSIDC not only built the under pass outside the GMC but built the medical and gynec wards of the GMC. Virtually every new project was given to the GSIDC which in turn contracted it out to its favourites like Venka Rao who was responsible for the disaster of the Dona Paula-Miramar bypass. The GSIDC was set up to cut down the PWD which had the largest share of the budget to size when Parrikar was the chief minister in 2002 and Ravi Naik was the PWD Minister.

It was expected that Sidharth would pay special attention to completing the beautification of the Dona Paula Bypass which was a project close to Parrikar’s heart. It was part of the beautification of Panjim for IFFI. Not only was the stretch of roads from Miramar circle to Dona Paula jetty and the Raj Bhavan to be concretised at a cost of `100 crore, there were suppose to be jogging track and benches for senior citizens. The ground reality was that the entire road which was in perfectly good condition was dug up and remained like a bombed out part of the line of control between Indian and Pakistan or the war zone in Syria. It has taken the GSIDC under Siddharth and the Managing Director Sanjeet Rodrigues four years to concretise the road. However it is still  rough and bumpy, and still in darkness. When the Panjim MLA was asked why there were no lights he brazenly replied there were being imported from Paris.

Sidharth won the bye-election in 2014 when Parrikar BABUSH- PARRIKAR SETTINGshifted to Delhi as Defence Minister because of the setting between Parrikar and Babush. The Taleigao boss was persuaded by Parrikar not to contest the election, making it easy for Sidharth to win. But Sidharth did not find it easy in 2017 when Babush decided to contest the Panjim seat. Fortunately for Sidharth, Valmiki of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to his rescue. If Valmiki had not amassed over 1,500 votes, Babush would have won as the margin was less than 1,000 votes between Babush and Sidharth.

This time again the Congress is very keen that Babush should contest on the Congress ticket against Parrikar. As many as 14 MLAs of the Congress, with the exception of Luzinho Faleiro, visited Babush at his house in Taleigao and begged him to contest. There is even talk that if Babush wins, the Congress will again try to topple the Parrikar government. The Congress which has now sixteen seats following the resignation of Vishwajit will get an additional three seats if Babush wins. In addition to Babush’s seats it will get the seat of Tony in Santa Cruz and Silveira in St Andre. The strength of congress will go up to 20. If the Congress manages to get back Goa Forward and Rohan Khaunte it will be easy for it to topple Parrikar.

There are however some doubts on whether Babush is serious about contesting. In 2014 he threatened to fight Siddharth in the bye-election but withdrew at the last moment. There is talk Parrikar himself is encouraging Babush to contest and will give him `1000 crores at the last moment to withdraw so that he can  get elected un-opposed. This was a same formula used by Luzinho in the past and more recently by the BJP to get Alina Saldhana elected.

The Congress in willing to give Babush a ticket. Babush seem to be willing to take it and oppose Parrikar. But the question in the mind of the Congress and the people is whether it is a real fight or a ‘setting’ between Parrikar and Babush. Let us not forget that there are two major criminal cases pending against Babush. One is the attack on the Panjim police station. The other is for abetment to suicide. There was also a case against his son for rape. Parrikar can always use this as a stick to blackmail Babush to withdraw at the last moment. So is Babush taking Congress also for a ride?

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