COLOSSAL: Madkaikar seems to be the current winner of the whose-house-is-bigger contest our politicians are playing, with a ‘palace’ that’s larger than those of Babush and Vijai Sardesai
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it was discovered that not only body parts harvested from brain dead persons, but even corneas harvested from cadavers, do not benefit the people of Goa. For a Saturday following the week when Pandurang Madkaikar built a huge palace almost exceeding the size of the Monserrate mansion within 30 metres of the Old Goa Heritage zone. For a Saturday following the week when the rejection of the Greater Panjim Planning Development Authority has snow balled into another GBA moment. For a Saturday following the week when the High Court hauled up the Goa Government for not putting the mining development fund to appropriate use. For a Saturday following the week when Goa seems to be flooded with migrants from Nepal transforming Dempo Bhat into Kathmandu.
NO ORGANS FOR GOA?
And a few stray thoughts on the hijacking of harvested organs from hospitals in Goa to Mumbai. It all started when the family of a brain dead Goan from Ponda decided to donate all his organs. The generous man had already committed to the harvesting of his corneas after his death.
When news broke of the patient’s family having very graciously agreed to permit the harvesting of all transplantable organs, including the liver and the kidneys, it was expected that they would be given to the Goa Medical College for the benefit of poor patients.
The GMC, even with its minimal infrastructure, has been routinely carrying out transplants of kidneys from donors.
With the excuse that the GMC did not have the necessary equipment for tissue typing (HLA) and matching of blood samples, Manipal Hospital hijacked the donated harvested organs and sent or sold them to a prominent private hospital, Global Hospital, in Mumbai. The health secretary, probably under pressure from Dr Shekar Salkar, head of clinical services at Manipal Hospital and known to be close to Manohar Parrikar, not only gave permission, but a green corridor was created for the rapid transfer of the harvested organs. A green corridor is a system to ensure that the ambulances carrying the organs and special cases can reach the airport in the fastest possible time.
Thanks to the green corridor created by the police and the cooperation of the Navy, the organs reached the airport in 24 minutes and were shifted to the Global Hospital in Mumbai, where they were probably auctioned to the highest bidder. There have been cases of sale of kidneys in Mumbai even with regards to very well known hospitals.
Shekar Salkar’s claim that the organs were sent to Bombay because GMC lacks blood matching facilities has been refuted by Dr Tiwari who is the head of the Nephrology department in GMC. Dr Tiwari has pointed out that the GMC team, which includes Dr Madhumohan Prabhudessai, Dr Teresa Pereira, and Dr Guruprasad Naik, could have easily got the blood matching done in Mumbai, as kidney transplants can be done upto 72 hours after a patient is declared brain dead.
Ironically, instead of taking action against the Manipal hospital and Shekar Salkar for virtually stealing the harvested organs, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has sought to victimise the Dean, Pradeep Naik, and the transplant co-ordinator, Dr Mahesh Panche.
Even more shocking is the fact that even corneas donated to private hospitals do not benefit Goans. Unlike in the case of other organs like the liver and kidneys, corneas can be transplanted even from dead bodies as long as they are harvested within a fixed period of time.
Though the GMC has a specialist in cornea transplants, the donated and harvested corneas were also flown to Mumbai for the patients of private hospitals in the commercial capital. It is not as though cornea transplants have not been done in Goa in the past. Cornea harvesting has been done for a long time in the state as the transplant operation is the easiest and considered the safest of all transplants.
Admittedly the GMC has no full-fledged corneas transplant unit, but this has not prevented the ophthalmology department from performing cornea transplants just as kidney transplants have been done even though the infrastructure is minimal. Indeed, the GMC team, which included an outside consultant, Dr Madhumohan, who was ironically working for Manipal before founding Healthway, has performed more than two dozen kidney transplants. The team includes the HOD of the cardiac speciality, Dr Guruprasad Naik. The only time the transplant of kidneys were interrupted was when Dr Tiwari went on a sabbatical for two years. Indeed Dr Tiwari has been managing the Nephrology department of the GMC single handedly for more than two decades.
Goa has a desperate need for kidney transplants and a long waiting list, as kidney problems are very high in Goa, particularly in Canacona, which has a disproportionate number of patients with kidney problems for whom a special dialysis facility has been set up. Dialysis involves literally cleaning your blood to remove waste products and excess fluid (if the kidney is not able to) as frequently as required. However, it’s a short term solution and only a transplant can save patients with acute kidney problems.
The entire drama occurred in the midst of all kind of fake news. There were posts on Whatsapp and Facebook that the organs were being harvested for the benefit of Manohar Parrikar, the chief minister, who is suffering from a pancreas-related illness. The implication was that the pancreas would be transplanted to save Manohar Parrikar. There was also a strong and credible rumour that the harvested kidneys were meant for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
By a coincidence or otherwise, Arun Jaitley who was undergoing dialysis, was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi for a scheduled kidney transplant. The WhatsApp rumours were that the blood of the donor lined up by AIIMS did not match and therefore Delhi was desperately looking for alternate kidneys. It was claimed that the kidneys were rushed to the private Global Hospital in Mumbai to check if there was a match and the kidney could be transplanted to the finance minister.
What Health Minister Rane must find out is whether the Manipal Hospital sold the organs which were donated by the family of the generous man to Global Hospital. Vishwajit Rane should also make the necessary arrangements for the infrastructure needed for not just organ transplant, which already exist in case of kidneys and corneas, but also for harvesting of organs from brain dead persons.
And a few stray thoughts on the palace built by the Cumberjua MLA, Pandurang Madkaikar, which competes with the Bom Jesus Basilica which houses the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier.
The palace, which is bigger than that of Babush Monserrate in Taleigao and Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda, is estimated to cost `200 crore. When I was returning from the Court in Ponda, after the defamation charges against me by the Sanatan were dismissed, out of curiosity I took a detour to see Madkaikar’s Palace for myself. I did not have far to go as it is just opposite the compound wall of the Bom Jesus Basilica. Indeed, the boundary wall of the Madkaikar palace is within 30 metres or less of the Basilica. This is a total violation of the rules of the Archaeological Society of India (ASI). ASI rules stipulate that there can be no structure within 500 metres of an archeological monument. In the case of the Madkaikar Palace it is an even greater sin because the Basilica is a world heritage monument recognised as such by UNESCO.
This palace is not the only structure built by Madkaikar in violation of ASI rules. The vigilance department should order an inquiry into disproportionate assets as it is highly unlikely Madkaikar would be able to build a palace of this size, scale and grandeur with money from his construction business.
When I was looking at the Madkaikar palace, I felt I was outside Buckingham Palace, the residence of the Queen of England, or one of those massive palaces you see on Hindu film sets, or even in serials these days. There are many palaces of crorepathis in Mumbai which are rented for film shootings, but most of them are fake and made of wood. Madkaikar’s palace is definitely very real. Maybe Madkaikar will get the tourism minister to market his mansion as a new tourist attraction.
And a few stray thoughts on the North Goa Planning and Development Authority (NGPDA) proving to be a disaster for both Vijai Sardesai and Babush Monserrate.
The creation of the NGPDA was part of the deal that Vijai, the TCP minister, had struck with Babush as quid pro quo for not contesting against Parrikar and joining the Goa Forward (GF) party. The NGPDA was supposed to include not only Panjim and Taleigao, but also villages in the Santa Cruz and St Andre constituencies. Which meant that the NGPDA would cover not only Santa Cruz, but Chimbel and Merces, as well as the villages of Cujira, Curca and Bambolim, which are part of the St Andre constituency. It was also meant to include the new Dona Paula or Patto, the Kadamba Plateau, where huge projects are coming up even though there is no provision for drinking water.
Vijai had probably assumed that Babush had so much money and muscle power that nobody would object. It was not surprising that mummy dearest and son Rudolf strongly opposed the inclusion of Santa Cruz in the NGPDA. Unfortunately for Babush, both the MLAs of Santa Cruz, Tony Fernandes, and the St Andre MLA, Silveira, were forced to withdraw support to the proposed inclusion of villages in their constituency in the PDA.
The only thing left for poor Babush, who was once the TCP minister himself when Parrikar was chief minister, is the village of Taleigao. Even in Taleigao there is opposition to the destruction of the few paddy fields still remaining, which supply vegetables.
The opposition to the NGPDA has gained momentum and has become a mass moment like the Goa Bachao Abhiyan (GBA) agitation. The GBA was formed to get RP 2011 (drawn up by Babush) scrapped, since it had literally sold Goa to builders from outside. The opposition to the NGPDA has spread to Candolim and Calangute, where the proposal of Michael Lobo to include these villages, and Parra, Parrikar’s birth place, in the NGPDA has drawn objections. The GBA has called for scrapping of all PDAs.
To divert attention, Vijai Sardesai who has labelled the revolt against Babush, anarchy, has announced the revival of RP 2021 which was suspended by Manohar Parrikar. It is not clear which RP 2021 Vijai Sardesai wants to revive. There is the draft RP 2021 which was formulated by Edgar Rebiero with the blessing of the GBA headed by Dr Oscar Rebello. There was the RP 2021 which was notified by the then chief minister Digambar Kamat just a few day before the election in 2012 which was objected to by the village groups. Then there is the RP 2021 which has been partially implemented by Manohar Parrikar.
Currently conversions are permitted on the basis of RP 2001 and 2021. The GBA has opposed both the PDAs and the RP and is demanding the implementation of the amendments to the Constitution which confer autonomy on local bodies like municipalities and Panchayats to formulate their own development plan.
What is very disturbing that Vijai Sardesai keeps talking about vertical development which raises the fear that there will be 30 and 40 storey building in Goa soon.
HC RAPS GOVT AGAIN
And a few stray thoughts on the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court lashing out at the government for its failure to use the District Mineral Foundation Fund (DMFF).
Mining companies are required to contribute to the mining fund which is intended to repair the damage caused by mining and to provide facilities to mining areas. The total amount collected so far by the government is in excess of `200 crore.
The government needs Panchayats in both South Goa and North Goa to publicise and co-ordinate with applicantd to identify projects to be taken up in mining affected areas. Not a single project has been taken up by the foundation so far. Instead the government has diverted the funds meant for repairing the damage caused by mining to other projects which are connected with mining damage. The court has restrained the government from disbursing any amount above `2 lakhs without informing the chief secretary in writing.
And a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. There have been disturbing reports of increasing child abuse in Goa. According to a national survey there are at least five cases of child abuse every month. What is even more disturbing is the last scale trafficking of Nepalis for domestic work and possibly for prostitution. The largest number of prostitutes in red light districts in Goa are from Kolkata and Nepal.
Goa seems to also attract women who can be exploited for domestic labour. As in the case of the other migrant communities, Nepalis who come to Goa rarely leave, as they cannot expect to get the kind of wages that even unskilled contract labour get in Goa.
Among the biggest employers of Nepali men and women is Clube Gaspar Dias which pays Nepali women `8,000 or less, for 14 to 16 hours of work of washing vessels. Most of them are illiterate and do not have any identity proof. The huge influx of Nepali migrants has converted Dempo Bhatt, owned by Rajesh Dempo, into a mini-Nepal. Just last week I was introduced to a young girl who could not be more than 15, who had come to live in Dempo Bhatt because she got married to a Nepali living here.
The strange part is how they get to Goa which is more than 5,000 km away. Unlike in the case of Sikkim, which though autonomous is considered part of India, and where you don’t need a visa, Nepal is a foreign country! In fact Nepal considers itself the only Hindu kingdom in the world, though it has a Marxist government.
Clearly there is a large scale trafficking of women for domestic work from Nepal to Goa. There is even a foreign exchange dealer who, for a fee, arranges to transfer the salaries earned by these young Nepalese women.