CENSORED: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani dropped Sexy Durga and Nude from the films selected for the IFFI Indian Panorama section by the jury headed by Sujoy Ghosh

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Manohar Parrikar asked those opposing coal to give up power. For a Saturday following the week when a Facebook post dramatized how much spillage there is from railway wagons carrying coal from the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) to Karnataka through Goa. For a Saturday following the week when from December 1 all bhailes will have to pay for medical treatment in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the chairman of the Panorama section of IFFI quit over Smithi Irani dropping Sexy Durga and Nude. For a Saturday following the week when Indigo flights proved to be injurious to health.  


AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar telling those who are opposing coal to give up electricity. The logic being that the bulk of the power that Goa receives from the national grid is thermal power which is made from coal. There are three main sources of electric power namely, hydral, thermal and nuclear. Goa does not have any captive power generation capacity of its own. Even the small 20 megawatt power generation plant based on naphtha which supplied power to the Verna Industrial Estate closed down when the government stopped buying power from it. Even though Goa has been demanding supply of power from the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karwar it has been refused. So Parrikar is right in claiming that bulk of the power that Goa is buying from the national grid is thermal power.

According to a well-known Goan chemical technologist who was among the first Goans to graduate from the prestigious university department of chemical technology (UDCT) in Mumbai a 500 MW plant needs 350 tonnes of coal per hour. At present Goa’s approximate daily power requirement is about 450 MW. Which means that Goa certainly does not require the existing import capacity of the MPT of about 10 million tonnes of coal. That’s more than three times its current requirement. And permission is being sought to increase the import to 50 million tonnes of coal! So to argue that those who are opposed to the import and transport of coal should give up electricity is absurd.

The issue is just not because of importing coal. Parrikar is fair enough to admit that import and transport of coal causes pollution. He is fair enough to admit that technology should be improved to minimise if not completely eliminate pollution due to import and transport of coal. However, despite all the tall promises that Parrikar has been making over ten years, he has not been able to implement measures to even reduce pollution due to transport of iron ore. The problems with transportation of iron ore are comparable with coal because unlike other states like Karnataka, Goa imports iron ore powder and not lumps — which causes great pollution. As in the case of coal, the iron ore companies are required to ensure that the trucks are covered with tarpaulin sheets. But inevitably truck owners overload their trucks which leads to spillage, causing pollution. The mining companies are supposed to sprinkle the ore with water before it is loaded onto the truck. They are supposed to sweep the roads through which the trucks pass to remove the dust which has fallen. The mining companies are expected to avoid urban areas during the day time and the trucks are supposed to drive at a maximum speed of 40 km. Successive governments, including the BJP government, have not been enforcing any of these measure in respect of ore. So what is the guarantee that they will able to make the import and transport of coal safer than the transport and export of ore?

Which brings us to another question — why is Goa lagging behind in developing non-polluting, sustainable power through hydro, wind and solar power generation?


AND a few stray thoughts on the myth that transport of coal by railway wagons does not cause pollution. There is a Facebook video post which shows some kids picking up coal which had fallen out from wagons near Cansaulim.

The Facebook post shows that in 30 minutes time, within a stretch of 200 meters, they had picked up two large bags of coal. You can imagine the extent of coal that spills and causes pollution all along the 30 km tracks from the MPT to Kolem, which is the last station on the Goa side of the Karnataka border.

The only solution is to carry polluting material in sealed wagons as is done in the case of petroleum and other chemicals. This is unlikely to happen as it will push up the cost.

GMC to charge

AND a few stray thoughts on bhailes having to pay for medical treatment in the GMC and all other government hospitals and primary health centres in Goa. It is admitted that 30% of the patients at the GMC are from Maharashtra. This is because unlike Karnataka, which has the private Manipal Hospital group which serves North Karnataka, Maharashtra does not have a good government hospital in the Konkan area of Maharashtra. Indeed there are very few reliable medical centres between Thane in Maharashtra and Goa. Most patients including accident patients are from the Konkan belt stretching right upto Kudal and Ratnagiri. The GMC which is consider the oldest hospital in Asia has become even more attractive to bhailes following the setting up of the Cardiac super speciality. In contrast to private hospitals where the cost for stenting can be a minimum of `1.5 lakhs and that of an open heart surgery as much as `3 lakhs, these procedures, including stay in ICU, are completely free in the cardiac facility in GMC.

The question is if it is fair to charge patient from Maharashtra and Karnataka for treatment in the GMC. A larger number of patients come from Karnataka as in the case of Maharashtra there is no free government hospital in north Karnataka with the range of facilities that the GMC offers. There are number of government and municipal hospital in Mumbai which is home to several lakhs of Goans and people from outside Maharashtra. Indeed Maharashtrians form the minority of the population in Mumbai. If Goa starts charging patients from Maharashtra will the government and municipal hospital in Mumbai which are free to all start charging Goans in retaliation. Should medical care particularly to the poor and needy be commercialised. The majority of those who come to GMC from outside the state are not middle class but the labour class or even farmers and landless labours.

In theory at least the GMC is not supposed to provide free treatment to all patients who flock to it. According to GMC rules free treatment should be extended only to those with a totally family income of less than a lakh which may have been raised to `3 lakhs. The ground reality is that even very rich NRIs prefer to go to GMC for treatment for serious condition like kidney and cardiac problems. Moreover even the diagnostic equipment like the CT Scan and the MRI are in great demand from even the rich and the power leave alone the middle class because it is more expensive outside. A recent high resolution MRI of the throat at a private radiology centre cost me `8,000. The only reason people go to private radiology centres for ultra sounds or CT Scans or MRIs is because it takes weeks and sometimes months to get an appointment at GMC.

Nobody is suggesting that all services offered in the MRI such as complicated high risk and expensive surgery like neuron surgery or cardiac bypass should be done free of cost. The logical solution would be to charge in proportion to the income of the patient. The charges can be half that of the cheapest private facility. But a system must be evolved under which the patient has to prove that his income is below the limit which qualifies him for free treatment. An income certificate should be demanded from every patient rather than a domicile certificate to establish whether he is a local or the outsider.

The tragedy of the GMC is that patients are treated so badly whether they are Goans or from outside the state. There is so much corruption that unless you pay the attendants and other staff you cannot expect any attention. There have been complaints of shortage of beds and even shortage of linen in the super speciality Cardiac unit for which a nurse was suspended recently. The poor are ignored and the rich are pampered. Unless you know somebody working in GMC you cannot expect proper treatment. The main job of the superintendent of the hospital is to make sure that VIPs get priority and good attention. And in Goa of course every chamcha of every MLA and councillor and official is a VIP.


AND a few stray thoughts on Sujoy Ghosh, the chairman of the jury of the Panorama section of the 48th edition of IFFI scheduled to start on November 28, resigning from his position. This comes in the wake of the imperious Smriti Irani, soap queen turned minister for Information and Broadcasting, ordering that two films selected by the jury for participation in IFFI 2017 should be dropped. The two films are Sexy Durga, made by a Malayali film director, and Nude made by a Maharashtrian producer. Both films have won international film awards and are considered artistic classics. We do not even know if the most honourable minister for Information and Broadcasting has seen the films. The first of them, Sexy Durga, is about harassment of women at the work place, and the second film Nude, is on the plight of nude models all over the world. Nude models are used not only by tabloid papers in London and the US to attract readers but even by the Thanthi which is the largest circulated paper in Tamil Nadu. Nudes are also extensively used not just by painters but in art colleges. The Marathi film is on the problems faced by women who model nude. Not just two members of the jury but the entire Marathi film industry is very upset over the rejection of these two film by the minister. This is the first time in the history of IFFI that films chosen by the expert jury have been rejected by the minister.

There are other problems connected with IFFI 2017. These are problems mainly of infrastructure. The government of Goa knows that IFFI is held between November 20 and November 28 every year. Earlier it used be held from the November 23 to December 3, but this clashed with the feast of St Francis Xavier. It has also been the experience that after the first week most delegates lose interest. Though the government knows the dates the so called beautification, which consists of repairing portholes and putting fresh tiles and decorations, is always done at the last moment. On a positive note, for a change the processing of delegate cards and even media cards has been much smoother this time compared to previous IFFIs.

There are also reservations about the quality of films that will be screened at IFFI. Until this year, IFFI was organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals. An employee of the film festival directorate was permanently based in Goa to look after IFFI. This year however the festival is being organised by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Until last year the NFDC was only concerned with the film market, normally held at the Marriott hotel, where distributors buy rights to new films screened at IFFI. Originally the NFDC was started to promote new wave experimental films by first time directors, dealing with subjects which may not appeal to large audiences. Indeed there was a time when I had a big fight with the NFDC way back in the ‘70s over financing films that nobody could understand. In recent years the NFDC has become more commercial. We do not know whether this will be reflected in the quality of the films in the current year.


AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it appeared that flying from the Goa airport and particularly by Indigo can be injurious to your health. The problem with taking off or landing in many Indian airports including the Goa airport is the risk that you may run into unauthorised passengers. Stray dogs have free entry to the tarmac of the Goa airport along with the holy cow. There are airports in the country where flights have crashed into other animals too, like hippos in Guwahati in Assam. The stray dogs and the stray cattle in the Goa airport are primarily due to garbage just outside the border of the airport. Besides being an obstacle to landing and take-off, the garbage also attracts a lot of birds which often results in damage to aircraft due to bird hits.

Of all the airlines in the country it seems very unsafe to travel by Indigo. This is not because of cattle, dogs or birds but because of the staff of the airline. Among the first to complain was Olympic silver medallist badminton player PV Sindhu, whose racquets were handled very roughly by the airline staff. Sindhu who makes millions of dollars is naturally very concerned about how her racquets are treated and carries them with her as hand baggage. In another incident an Indigo passenger who was trying to get into the bus to take him from the aircraft to the terminal was beaten up by the staff. It did not help the airline that the video went viral. There have been so many incidents of violence by Indigo staff that there are even jokes about airlines fractures.

The worst part about flying in India is that it has become very expensive. Gone are the days of cheap flights. Of course there are cheap flights still, but only if there are no passengers. If you want to travel when you want to, which is most likely to be over the weekend, the fares shoot up. This is because the pricing of air tickets is based on demand and supply. Since everyone wants to come to Goa on Friday and leave on Monday, fares on these days are double or triple the normal fare. Cab operators like Ola and Uber call it surge pricing which means that cost or tariff varies according to demand. This ironically is the same argument that our own taxi drivers used.

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