LETTER TO EDITOR FOR ISSUE DATED 03RD FEB 2018

FOR A NOBEL CAUSE: Ever wondered how much the discoveries of Nobel-prize winners has changed our world? Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated the Nobel Prize Series of events and exhibits on Feb 1, 2019, at the Kala Academy in Goa. He warmly greeted visiting Nobel laureates from abroad, saying it makes him happy to promote a scientific temper in India and Goa, quoting famous Sanskrit prayers `Asato maa satgamaya…’ and `Om sahana vavatu…’ in his brief welcome. On stage with him are (l to r) Richard J. Roberts (Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1993), Tomas Lindahl (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2015), Carl-Henrik Heldin (chairman of the Nobel Foundation since 2013), Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 1995), Serge Haroche (Nobel Laureate in Physics 2012) and Mattias Fyrenius (CEO of Nobel Media)

REACTION BUDGET 2018

IT’S an amazing health budget for health! Five lakh cover for second and tertiary treatment is a great step towards government buying health for needy people rather than spending on infrastructure! Need to know more on this  scheme as implementation through which agency not mentioned. TB is given a big thrust. Starting Rs1.5 lakh health wellness centers is also a good initiative but need to study fine print. Hope it is as per geographical need rather than political.

Converting district hospitals into medical college was demand of IMA Goa State also which is taken into consideration. Relief for elderly on health expenditure. Make villages ODF (open defecation free) will be a big boost to decrease communicable diseases burden in villages.

I still think government must work with private sector to have one super specialty center every 200 km and smaller secondary level hospital at every 50 km. It may be either government or private sector but some sort of health facility should be made available. Wherever government facility not available government can buy facility from private sector through schemes!  

– Dr Shekhar Salkar, Panaji

UNHAPPY

PLEASE tell me why the government has decided to tax Long Term Capital Gains (LTCG) after almost 15 years! Security Transaction Tax (STT) was introduced for its simplicity of collection and assured revenues. With the reintroduction of LTCG tax and continuing collection of STT we are bearing the brunt of both taxes together.

– Nikhil Desai, Goa

OLA & UBER

GOA to Mumbai flight ticket is `2,000 (600 km) and so called local taxi charge `2,500 (80 km) from Pernem to airport. If it was Ola and Uber it would have been `600. I support Ola and Uber. Ola and Uber is need of the hour for Goa!

– Ida Mukherjee, Dona Paula

NO MORAL SANCTION FOR MOPA AIRPORT

THE government showed crass lack of respect while approving the conversion of Mopa plateau into an airport.  

The villagers of Mopa are opposing the setting up of an airport in what is a hot spot of bio-diversity in its natural present condition, in order to protect the flora and fauna of this exotic plateau. This is going to be destroyed by the construction of the airport once and for all.

Goa does not need another airport as Dabolim, which is strategically located, is in a position to cater to tourist air-traffic for another 20 years. Protecting the wildlife of Mopa is the sacred will of the people of Mopa. The wildlife will be permanently displaced and erased from the face of Goa. This transgression on nature will drastically affect tourist inflow into Goa.  

– Elvidio Miranda, Panaji

TAXI IMBROGLIO!

THE taxi problem is vexing for users (locals & tourists), taxi drivers/owners and the government. Of the three stakeholders, the first can use the print media to voice their frustration, their objective being short term affordable and fixed fares through metered taxis! For the government it is a happy hunting ground. For the taxi driver, it’s a livelihood which could go the fishing industry way. Not being adroit in pen-fencing they can only protest and strike.

Fishing in Goa is taken over by cheap migrant labour; the wholesale fish market by migrant contractors, who know how to butter our politicians, recovering the same by raising fish price to breaking point till fish goes off Goan tables and may be found only in hotels/restaurants. Even hotels raise their prices prompting tourists to seek other cheaper destinations: spiralling effect if you can acknowledge it. Mind you, the contractors sell fish at a rate the public cannot afford: after availing subsidy from the government, taken from the same public!

Five years ago in Patna, a cycle rickshaw offered to carry two people weighing 150 kg one km for `5. The north Indian colleague with me thought it was a rip off. I refused to be pulled by a 60+ emancipated, albeit wiry man — or any human for that matter — with calloused feet in worn out rubber chappals. What if we got all these cycle rickshaw pullers to drive taxis run by Ola/Uber in Goa: Voila, we could solve our problem with very cheap fares! The drivers could stay on open communidade land with political promise of free houses for votes in the near future. In the bargain, the inhuman practice of cycle rickshaws would also be solved. The government could  ensure the profits for the providers by reducing taxes on fuel: like they did for Reliance Power and are now seeking to do for Vedanta in iron ore!

Hence, the objective of the taxi problem must be :

Affordable metered  fare in keeping with cheaper petrol/diesel costs in Goa,

inclusion of all present taxi drivers in the scheme, ensuring them a similar quality of life now enjoyed by them with a roof over their heads and sending their children to the same schools as of now,  and

maintenance of present safety level to passengers.

We have seen how watchmen (grandiosely termed security guards by our government) in Goa have been involved in murders and molestations. There cannot be any relaxation on this count with the Goa police stereo cliché — the crimes here are fewer than outside Goa. Further, there cannot be a monopoly — a favourite of the present Goa government, like the gift to a single mobile service provider, all the traffic islands /government property, etc, for their wi -fi towers! I truly cannot understand the MRTP Act.

Can the government solve this problem? Better they cancel the Singapore consultant to be hired to ensure 24X7 water to Panaji residents and instead hire them to solve the taxi problem! Or what about the Goa Institute of Management? The government has given them land subsidised or free: surely they can solve the same. A first activity for them is to take an inventory of all the present taxi drivers/owners and their present living standards and proceed from there. After the solution is found, hopefully we will not crib like we do now: no fish and no safety in mega projects.

– R Fernandes, Margao

 

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