ABANDONED: Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has abandoned the mining dependants, insisting that the Center cannot solve the problem
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Manohar Parrikar made it clear to his Cabinet colleagues that they could not expect any help from the Centre to resume mining. For a Saturday following the week when the people of Vasco have stopped not only transport but even renewal of consent to import coal. For a Saturday following the week when the Election Commission will now have to conduct three bye-elections in Goa instead of two. For a Saturday following the week when the treatment of Francis D‘Souza by the BJP might lose them the support of the minority Catholic community. For a Saturday following the week when there was no water supply or internet connection or even the time pass of TV due to various agencies digging up the roads in Panjim. For a Saturday following the week when all higher secondary and college principals have asked for cancelation of Sunburn scheduled to be held on February 23 and 24.
And a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar destroying the hopes of the mining dependants that the Centre will help in renewing mining in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear that the Centre will not attempt to amend the 1980 Mining Act which converted the concessions in Goa into leases. Any Legislative intervention is ruled out as both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have already completed their last sessions during the current term of Parliament. So there is no question of the BJP government proposing any Amendments into Parliament since elections are due within the next few months. In any case the Supreme Court has made it very clear that natural resources including coal, silica and ore have to be e-auctioned.
In several other States like Karnataka and Orissa the e-auctioning process has already begun. The Goa government and its leaders have been misleading the mining dependants, particularly those who live in the villages where mining was carried out.
The biggest victims of the suspension of mining are not the truck owners and the barge owners but the ordinary people who used to enjoy a range of amenities in return for putting up with the ore pollution. The mining units used to supple water by tankers to mining areas. They also used to provide busses to transport the children of villages to Quepem and other urban centres for education. Some mining companies even had primary health centres and used to hold health camps for mining villages. The Sesa Goa group has probably contributed the maximum in terms of corporate social responsibility by setting up a technical school which has achieved the highest standard of excellence. The Sesa Goa Football Academy, nursing grounds for the stars of the ISL and the premier league, is only the second of its kind in the country. The other football academy is run by the Tatas in Jamshedpur.
Goa has not even started the process of auctioning the mining leases which is a complicated process. In the first place a geological survey has to be conducted to identify areas which have viable deposits of ore. Than the strata has to be divide into packages for the auction. The Mines Institute will have to value the reserves of ore in each of the packages. It is only than that the process of auctioning can start. Even then there is no guarantee that the present mine owners like Shivaanand Salgaocar or Vedanta will be able to successfully bid, as they will face stiff competition from outside parties like the Jindals and the Adanis. The local mine owners realized this and have given up hope of getting their leases back and are diversifying in other States and outside the country. Vedanta is focusing more on ore rich areas like Bellary in Karnataka. There are some Goan mine owners who have started extracting ore from Sindhudurg in Maharashtra. Shrinivas Dempo sold his mines to Vedanta and has invested in shipyards in Gujarat. The worst affected are the mining Constituency MLAs like Pramod Sawant of Sanvordem and Nilesh Cabral of Curchorem among many others. The locals are bound to throw them out in the next elections for making false promises.
VASCO AGAINST COAL
And a few stray thoughts on the people of Vasco finally rejecting the dirty cargo that blackens the whole of Vasco.
The coal transported through the city of Vasco has covered houses, schools, and even government offices in black. In collusion with the MPT and the State Pollution Control Board, the Adanis and the Jindals stepped up the import of coal to the Mormugao port.
The MPT which promises to take precautions like watering the trucks and ensuring that the coal is covered with tarpaulin, has failed. The MPT has also openly defied the directions of the GSPCB and has not prevented the illegal increase in coal handling at the Adani berth. The Adanis are planning to export millions of tonnes of ore through the MPT for their power plants in Karnataka, following their getting a huge coal concession in Australia.
Our suspicion that the national highways within Goa were being broadened not for the benefit of Goenkars but for the Adanis and the Jindals proved to be true, with a reader sending us pictures of a truck full of coal passing on the new Mandovi bridge. I wonder whether now Panjim will also become as black as Vasco.
The transport of coal and ore through Vasco city is primarily because of the delay in completing the portion of the national highway from MPT to Varanpuri so that the trucks don’t have to pass through Vasco city. The local MLA Milind Naik is also suspected to have a vested interest as he reportedly has the contract for transporting coal. Under pressure from the public the GSPCB suspended downloading of coal from ship berths already in Vasco. More importantly it cancelled the consent to operate so that more ships of the Adanis and the Jindals cannot enter MPT.
And a few stray thoughts on yet another constituency where by-elections have to be held following the tragic death of former Deputy Chief Minister Francis D Souza.
Francis who had a kidney transplant also developed cancer for which he was being treated along with Parrikar in Sloan Kettering in New York. Francis came back when the political situation was unstable and there was a possibility of Parrikar stepping down, but was disappointed a second time. Parrikar did not step down and the BJP did not give Francis the importance that he earned.
Francis was not only the first Catholic MLA elected on the BJP ticket, but has been re-elected four times from the Mapusa Contituency. It was Manohar Parrikar who persuaded his HSS friend from St Xavier HSS Mapusa to join the BJP in the first place. But Francis was treated very badly by the BJP, even though it was he who de-stigmatized the BJP among the Catholic community. It was Francis’s idea to give tickets to more Catholic MLAs which proved to be a winning strategy and brought back the BJP to power.
Even in the 2017 election, seven of the thirteen elected BJP MLAs were Catholics.
Francis went out of his way to get close to the RSS which called the shots and even described himself as a Hindu Catholic. Despite this, when Parrikar was asked to go to Delhi as Defense Minister, Francis who was then Deputy CM and had the support of 12 MLAs, was not considered for the post. The RSS was adamant that a Catholic could not become the chief minister and nominated Laxmikant Parsekar to succeed Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister.
When the BJP failed to get a majority in the 2017 elections and a coalition government had to be formed Babush, as Francis D Souza was more popularly called, was pushed back to number four in the order of seniority. Babush was shifted to the Healthway Hospital when his condition worsened and it was in Healthway that he died.
Though Vijai Sardesai in an emotional moment pledged support to Joshua, the son of Francis D’Souza for the Mapusa seat, the BJP may not be willing to let him contest on the Goa Forward ticket.
The MGP has also staked its claim for the Mapusa seat besides the Shiroda and the Mandrem seats. The BJP has made it clear that it will not tolerate any rebellion by Laxmikant Parsekar as it removed the block president closest to Parsekar in Mandrem. And Parsekar is determined to contest against Dayanand Sopte, the defector from the Congress.
Both the Congress and the MGP will be taking on Subhash Shirodkar in the Shiroda Constituency. A complaint has been recently filed against Subhash Shirodkar for illegally acquiring huge amounts of property. The probability is that the three by-elections will be held along with the parliamentary elections in April/May. The Parliamentary elections have to be held well before May as the term of the present Parliament ends in June.
GRAVES FOR CITIZENS
And a few stray thoughts on the smart city in Panjim becoming a death trap with multiple agencies digging graves for its citizens.
Travelling in Panjim has never been worse. The smart city project is digging up the whole of Panjim including the entrance to the residence of the chief secretary at Altinho. Additionally, Jio is back to its usual mischief with digging up roads all over Panjim right from Altinho to Dona Paula to lay underground cables. The Water Supply Department is also digging up roads to replace 40-year-old cement pipes with galvanized iron pipes. Never mind that the steel pipes are likely to carry rust unless they are treated and you will get brown water in your tapes.
You cannot even stay home and drown your sorrows watching TV as the cables have snapped. In fact, ever since the set top box was introduced to give the aam aadmi the freedom to choose his own channels, there has been total confusion. The hidden agenda between digital TV and the set top box is that the government can also track who is watching which channel, and can use it to spy on you.
So if the yellow light on your set top box is blinking it could be said to be watching you. So be careful when you curse when you are watching the news.
The primary logic is that you pay
130 to the cable operator for the bouquet of 100 free channels, which includes Doordarshan and all the religious channels, including Ramdev Baba Astha. For all the rest, whether it is NDTV and CNN news, or your favourite daily soap operas, viewers have to pay additional. Most broadcasters, including Star and Zee TV, have priced their package of programmes at49 per month. Colors has become over-smart and claims that you can see their serials for
1 per day or30 per month.
This is become a common practice among manufacturers of consumer goods who are now selling every product in small pouches of
5 and10. You can get miniscule amounts of anything you want, right from Head & Shoulders shampoo to Kissan jam, for
5 or10 per packet. The catch is even if you pay the cable operator the fees for watching Zee and Star, he does not pass on the money to the broadcaster. Which is why it would be a better system if the TV channels collect additional money directly from the customer.
Alternatives like Dish TV, Tata Sky etc offer more direct access from the broadcaster and the customer but then don’t give access to local channels like Prudent Media, HCN etc.
But going back to the state of Panjim which looks like terror ravaged Pulwama, the problem is there is no co-ordination. None of the agencies have taken permission from the CCP or the collector, who is supposed to be the co-ordinating authority. He has asked them to stop digging and restore the roads to normal condition. This will be worse because the work will not be done and the ditches will be filled shoddily.
And a last stray thought on Sunburn which is expected to be held according to Babu Azgaocar on February 23 & 24.
Babu, unlike previous tourism ministers, is willing to let Percept have Sunburn every year, provided they give him his cut. Which includes franchising the after parties in posh clubs like the Owl to his son. In the meanwhile, the opposition to sunburn is growing. The most concerned are parents of children in the 10th and 12th standard who are preparing for their exams. The young people are the ones who are most interested and may get distracted by Sunburn.
Sunburn was being denied permission because it owed the Goa police over `5 crore for security. There is also dispute over the tax they have to pay to the government by way of GST. Inspite of all the sins of Sunburn, Babu is very keen on their holding not just this performance but many more performances. Perhaps he is concerned more about filling his pockets than the welfare of children who will be disturbed by Sunburn.
Trance festivals began in Goa more than five decades ago when the hippies discovered Goa. In fact, Goa became internationally famous for its electronic music festivals. The distinguishing feature of trance music is that the same rhythm is repeated again and again. It is like listening to a broken record. You cannot stand this ‘music’, or rather noise, for more than an hour. Yet you find both firangs and Indians dancing non-stop for eight to ten hours at a stretch, an unlikely feat without consumption of alcohol or drugs.
I have attended trance festivals and have found them unbearable. I could not hear properly many days after I attended the first trance festival in Goa. You cannot be part of Sunburn or other EDM concerts unless you are on drugs. In the very first Sunburn a young lady died within 100 mtrs of the venue due to a drug over dose. Sunburn should be banned because it is not about music but about drugs. The only people who will be happy are perhaps the likes of Roy, son of Ravi Naik, who is often accused of being involved in questionable activities, and the drug mafia.