DOING GOOD TOGETHER: The St Cruz panchayat is continuing its war against garbage. Last year it had a demo on segregation of garbage for each of its 11 wards and started door-to-door collection of garbage for all gated societies with over 200 flats. Recently the panchayat went a step further by taking a decision to permanently exterminate various garbage black spots in Santa-Cruz that have been created over the years. Anyone henceforth found dumping garbage in places such as roadsides, rivers, nullahs etc will be fined `1000 to `5000 as per the Goa Non-Biodegradable Control Act 1996. The panchayat had a press conference on August 2, 2018, at the Menezes Braganza hall, identifying 17 garbage black spots, of which it has already cleared four. Sarpanch of Santa-Cruz, Mr Mariano De Araujo, said that Chairman of Dempo Group of Companies, Mr Shrinivas Dempo, has agreed to provide a truck for garbage collection.


GOA Writers, a group of 50 plus writers from Goa, expresses shock and deep concern over reports that the Sahitya Akademi award winner Damodar Mauzo has been compelled to accept police protection after a threat to his life.GOA Writers, a group of 50 plus writers from Goa, expresses shock and deep concern over reports that the Sahitya Akademi award winner Damodar Mauzo has been compelled to accept police protection after a threat to his life.Goa’s police security branch acted promptly after it reported receiving `intelligence inputs about a threat to his life.’ However, such a situation should not have been allowed to arise in the first place. Our group has a diverse membership that is widely published in English, Konkani, Hindi Portuguese and we call on action in a manner that ensures such situations do not arise again. The threat to Mr Mauzo comes in the wake of a number of writers and journalists being killed in yet unresolved cases, including those of editor Gauri Lankesh of Bengaluru, rationalist former vice-chancellor MM Kalburgi in Dharwad, author Govind Pansare in Mumbai and rationalist author Narendra Dhabolkar of Pune. In 2017 the Committee to Protect Journalists recorded  20 instances of journalists in India being `threatened, sacked, physically attacked, censored and killed in the line of duty, by violent mobs, police, paramilitary forces, simply because they were doing their job.’Both in Goa and New Delhi we urge effective action against those who threaten free expression of thought and ideas, a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India, regardless of political affiliations or ideological connections.— Goa Writers Group, Goa PM OF POST-MORTEMS! THE PM keeps on harping about 70 years of mistakes by the Congress. In the same breath, he says he has made no mistakes during his four years! What is happening in Delhi? This is classic. With 70 years of teaching civics the lieutenant governor required the court to tell him his duties and those of the CM?  It took 70+4 years for  someone to have to go to court to interpret the law on mob lynching? That means for 70 years India was in the doldrums? Hardly. Who looks at the past? One who has not performed in the present. Take Indian hockey in the ongoing Women’s Hockey WC in London. India lost to Minnows Ireland and drew with USA struggling to enter the QF. Ironically, India is holding a photo exhibition at the stadium showcasing the past glory of Indian women’s hockey!In men’s hockey, India still harps on past glory but are no where in present world standing. The PM is not comparing his performance with past good but past bad! Astounding.Every time India loses a cricket match the experts – who  never played international cricket — wake up. Why did he  elect to bat on a bowler’s pitch? Why did he give the bowling to so and so: He gave away too many runs! He should have used so and so bowler. After the event, it is easy to become an expert.  The thing is to perform now and not just do post-mortems!— R Fernandes, Margao
GST BURDENTHE introduction of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) in its present regimen of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% has burdened the business class to a very great extent. With the introduction of competition, businessmen are finding it very hard to sustain profitability, since a high percentage of their earnings go into payment of GST. The hardworking businessmen find it difficult to run their business, be it the big businesses, the medium enterprises as well as the small businesses.While the small and medium enterprises are finding it hard to sustain their business, even the big businesses are finding it difficult to pay GST. Many small and medium businesses are facing the prospect of closure and are just managing to survive to make both ends meet. Even the five-star hotel businesses in Goa have petitioned the government to reduce GST from its present 28% to 18%, it’s an indicator that if big businesses are feeling the pinch, then what is the fate of  medium and small businesses. The government of Goa has reported a lower collection of GST, which itself reveals that all’s not well for our business community and probably doing business and meeting GST targets has become more and more difficult.GST rates should not have been given just four slots, which have a sizeable difference in rates, but taxes on business should have been levied such that 2-5% increase on the pre-GST rates should have been implemented, so as to sustain tax collection, while on the other hand allowing businesses to become sustainable and tax collection rational.— Elvidio Miranda, GoaFLOODING IN SMART CITYPANAJI or Ponji is said to mean “land that never gets flooded.’ Our forefathers who interpreted this must be turning in their graves at today’s situation in Panaji come the monsoon rain. This current season further exposed inherent weaknesses that have crept up on capital city Panaji which old-timers do not recollect. It’s a virtual epidemic of flooding. Episodic flooding even during low tides is directly linked to rapid urbanization and consequent damage to existing drainage systems of old. In a recent interview one government official passed of the floods due to concretization of the city. I would like to ask the same official how it got concretized to such dangerous levels? Was there no planning or foresight at all? Now that we know the cause, what are the immediate steps being taken and in the first place why wait until the onset of the monsoon to even begin any rectification?Don’t they know that Goa has enjoyed the monsoon from time immemorial for the same four months? All this just goes to prove that IAS qualification does not bestow common sense! Preparation for the monsoon could very well commence two months ahead instead of waiting for floods before opening blocked drainage systems. Don’t let any official tell us this year we experienced a heavy rainfall! Ponjekars have long memories of floods in the last few years, so it is no one-time phenomenon. I really wish Goan politicians and bureaucrats in Goa would own up to moral responsibility of lapses and not blame weather.If I may provide a basic definition of a smart city! It’s an urban area which is highly advanced in terms of infrastructure, real estate or housing facility, markets, communication and public transport. It is where information technology is high and all essential services easily available to residents. A smart city has a systematic plan, business opportunities, sustainable environment, efficient traffic management, good citizens and good government. Water and electricity are assured, as also sanitation and waste management, safety and security of citizens not last of all.Smart cities of the world are Vienna, Amsterdam, Cairo, Lyon, Malaga, Malta, the Sangdo International Business District, Seoul, Verona, Toronto, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona…in comparison Panjim or Panaji’s attempts to be smart are laughable. It is important to be a proper city first before becoming a smart city. The current exercise will only provide luxury cars to our so called planners and the inner circle and citizens will pay for all that. Panjim as smart city is not viable at all and whoever is promoting it is taking us all down a very slippery, dangerous path. No city becomes smart overnight, it is a long process of sometimes 20 years!What Panjim needs is a few smart people or even half-smart people, what it does not need is over-smart people. Until the people in charge deliver on improvement of basic infrastructure like water, electricity, sanitization and waste management, Panjim cannot be a smart city. Power outages, sewage overflows, garbage pile ups everywhere, water, water everywhere but not at home…badly patched up potholes do not a smart city make!Why are concerned ministries, ministers and civic bodies not being held responsible? Who is letting them of and why? I suggest losses in our public exchequer be made good by errant ministers. If they can pocket contracts why can’t they be made accountable or ignominiously booted out?— P Saldanha, Goa


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