SHORTAGE: With no sign of rain and the water level in the Opa reservoir falling drastically, we will have to depend on private tankers for drinking water
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For the Saturday following the week when Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai threatened to weaponise the youth cadre of the Goa Forward. For the Saturday following the week when the water situation deteriorated with a ban on the usage of Opa water for agricultural purposes. For the Saturday following the week when the Commissioner of the CCP directed that gated colonies and hotels would have to make their own arrangements for garbage. For the Saturday following the week when the unbelievable happened with two ISE students getting cent per cent results in the HSSC exam. For the Saturday following the week when Babush proved that he was the inheritor of Manohar Parrikar’s legacy by doing a U-turn on removing casinos from the Mandovi river.
And a few stray thoughts on when Vijai Sardesai threatened to weaponise the youth wing of Goa Forward, which has opened an office in Panjim.
Vijai Sardesai is not planning a surgical strike or dropping a nuclear bomb on Pakistan like his mentor Narendra Modi. Vijai is only going to supply arms — possibly koitas and even guns — to the youth cadre of Goa Forward. The provocation for the threat to convert the GF into a militant organisation like the Shiv Sena or the Ram Sena is the decision of the Goa University to scrap the domicile requirement in recruiting for jobs.
All these years it was mandatory for Goa University to insist on a domicile certificate of 15 years for recruitment of employees — both on the administrative and the academic sides.
In the beginning, when Goa University was started, there were not enough qualified faculty candidates who conformed to the UGC norms. But the situation has changed dramatically and Goa now has adequate candidates for filling vacancies in most departments. In fact there has not been a major problem in finding suitable candidates for the Arts faculty. At the beginning Dr Peter Ronnie D’Souza was head of the Political Science Department at the university. The head of the Economics Department went on to become the director of the IIAM Ahmadabad. The head of the Sociology Department, Avito Sequeira, has been among the most dedicated of the faculty members with pioneering work in sociology. The head of the History Department is again a Goan, Protima Kamat.
There have been problems retaining local talent because of the lack of support from the Goa government. As in the case of other areas like industry or even journalism, nobody takes Goa seriously as a centre of academic excellence. Which is why, despite providing housing and other facilities, not many people from outside are willing to come to Goa in any case.
Unlike in the Arts faculty, post graduates from the Science faculty, both in Goa and elsewhere in the country, have better options than teaching. Graduates with a masters degree in computers and even those who do their masters in physics, chemistry, microbiology or maths, have much greater earning opportunities in the corporate world. The best and brightest of Goa prefer to go to Bangalore, Bombay or abroad for want of suitable job opportunities.
It is logical and right to expect that the Goa University should only hire locals for administrative jobs, including that of the registrar. But it is not practical to insist on the domicile clause for hiring faculty. The quality of post graduates and doctorates that Goa produces will depend on the quality of the faculty. Already a large number of students who enrol for their PhD choose guides from outside Goa. There is no academic passion in the Goa University and the quality of the PhD theses is mediocre. I have seen some of the PhD theses on history and political science and wondered how doctorates were conferred on the candidates.
Several bureaucrats of the Goa civil service have used their influence to get PhDs from the Goa University, including former secretary to the governor Dr Radha Krishna and Dr Mudassar who used to be a Goa Civil Service officer and a favourite of Manohar Parrikar.
The standard of the university has been sinking year after year, touching rock bottom in the current academic year. There should not be an insistence on domicile in the fields of education and culture where we should try to attract the best talent if we want to reverse the slide. Goa University can collaborate with NIO for faculty for various science courses like micro biology and even introduce courses in fisheries and marine engineering.
It is obvious that post the death of Manohar Parrikar, Vijai feels frustrated and that is why the threat to weaponise the youth wing of GF. I hope someone will teach Vijai some basic English so the he does not use such threatening language. Particularly out of respect for his father who was an internationally recognised scholar and his sister, the late Dr Madhavi Sardesai, who was an expert on linguistics and headed the department.
And a few stray thoughts on the alarming water situation in the State. Unlike in earlier years there have been no heavy pre-monsoon rains to bring relief from the heat and keep the reservoirs at least full enough to maintain minimum water supply.
The situation is so serious that the water level at the Opa reservoirs, which supply water to Panjim, city has fallen to 2.15 mtrs as against a normal of 2.5 mtrs. This level is not enough to pump water for drinking purposes. Opa was built by the Portuguese and is the main source of drinking for North Goa. The existing water levels will not permit the smooth pumping of the daily requirement of 140 MLD.
The water levels in other reservoirs have also fallen drastically. The level at the Selaulim dam, which has a capacity of 210 MLD, has come down by half and will not last beyond the middle of May.
The biggest casualty is the farming sector, where the government has directed a ban on supply of water for irrigation. Of course the drinking water requirement of the capital and large parts of Goa have also been badly affected with the duration of supply being cut back. For instance in Panjim, which used to get at least two hours of water by rotation, the amount of time is less than an hour.
The water crisis is due to the failure of the government to promote rain water harvesting and build sufficient dams, bandahras or artificial lakes to store rain water. Though Goa gets very heavy rains, most of the water is wasted. The diversion of the Mhadai river has also affected availability of water.
Traditional wells have not been maintained and most cannot be used. Gated colonies and the concrete kings have misused the ground water table by sinking bore wells ignoring any regulations and norms. This in-turn has affected ground water levels and traditional wells have dried up in many cases.
The water supplied by the PWD in tankers is unfit for drinking. Private water tankers are making a killing as many of the new buildings rely only on water tankers — which adds `5,000 or more to their monthly expenses. They should be a ban on all construction activity till adequate water is generated. In a coastal state like Goa, desalination, which means converting sea water into freshwater, would be the best option. All the Gulf states depend on desalination for meeting their drinking water requirements.
And a few stray thoughts on the new record set in marks secured at the HSSC level.
While the highest pass percentage was 99% in the exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which controls the Kendriya Vidalayas, the Indian School Certificate (ISC) Board (which claims to be affiliate to the British educational system of Cambridge) has achieved the previously impossible feat of two students getting 400 out of 400.
Even in the HSSC exams conducted by the Goa Board, several students have 99 out of 100 in several subjects and a full 100% even in subjects like history and literature. I can understand getting 100% marks in maths and science subjects and even perhaps in Sanskrit, but it is inconceivable that such a large number scored over 90%.
As a former director of NCERT, Krishna Kumar has rightly pointed out that students are getting high marks not because they have become geniuses, but because the various Boards have lowered their standards. Indeed there is competition among the boards to inflate the marks of their respective organisations. This is because a lot of professional colleges depend on the HSSC results for admission.
Even in cases where there is a national entrance test and a state eligibility test, weightage is given to the marks secured at the 12th standard. The inflation of marks also creates a false sense of achievement in students.
That there is something wrong with the huge increase in marks is dramatised by the fact that the same toppers fare very badly in competitive exams like the JEE for entrance to IITs and the entrance test for the Indian Administrative Service or even the Goa civil service which produces the top bureaucrats at the Centre and State respectively.
The high marks can also be attributed to the shift to objective tests (where you select an answer which is either right or wrong) as against the earlier subjective essay-type analysis tests (where you actually write out your answers and analysis and were graded based on the quality of your answers).
The standards of IGNOU, which still follow the old method are much better than that of the system of multiple choice, where it can be a question of “akad bakad bambe bo” or guessing the right answer. The 99% and 100% is also due to a sharp fall in the quality of question papers whose aim is to make it easier for students.
And a few stray thoughts on the commissioner of CCP issuing a directive asking gated colonies and restaurants and hotels to set up their own waste management systems.
There seems to be a state of war between the CCP and the commissioner. The commissioner did not consult the mayor before issuing the directives. Understandably, both hotels and gated colonies have protested, as garbage tax is collected from them as a part of house tax for collection of garbage. The order of the commissioner may even render a large number of contract labourers, engaged in the collection of garbage, unemployed.
The commissioner, a young IAS officer, is not aware of the ground reality in Goa and Panjim. Panjim has always taken pride in the fact that it is the only city and the first to organise house-to-house collection of garbage. Ironically, the credit for this should go to the first commissioner of the CCP, Sanjit Rodrigues, who managed to motivate the residents not only to pay fees but to segregate garbage at source.
The CCP took the initiative to supply one green and one black garbage bin to all houses for disposing wet and dry waste. At that time Panjim also had a garbage dump at Curca (which later collapsed because Manohar Parrikar diverted the garbage of Mapusa also to Curca).
The tragedy of Panjim is that although it was the first to organise segregated collection of garbage, it no longer has a dump or a waste treatment plant.
A waste treatment plant was proposed in Bainguinim in Ribandar, but was sabotaged by the building lobby headed by Pandurang Madkaikar. The building lobby used the excuse that the waste treatment plant would affect the heritage complex of Old Goa.
For some time Babush had come to the rescue of Panjim by providing a dumping ground. But the pressure on land was so much that the area was sold, leaving Panjim without a dump. So though garbage is collected systematically it is thrown in any empty place, including the Campal parade ground where Liberation Day is celebrated.
And a few stray thoughts on Babush Monserrate having truly inherited the legacy of Manohar Parrikar. At least in the case of U-turns.
It may be recalled that the late Parrikar went back on most of the promises he had made, including the removal of casinos from the Mandovi river. When Babush was given the Congress ticket and filed his nomination for the Panjim seat, he swore that within 100 days of getting elected he would get rid of the casinos from the Mandovi.
However, like Parrikar, he also did a U-turn and said that it was not possible to remove the casinos so soon or perhaps never. His excuse was that the casinos provide a lot of young Goans highly paying jobs.
Firstly, there are many better ways to ensure employment. Infrastructure development, inviting non-polluting industries to Goa, etc. But even if casinos are the only means of providing jobs, they also destroy Panjim’s unique nature, with pollution and influx of the ‘casino crowd’, and spoil many Goans by introducing them not only to gambling but even to prostitution.
The ground reality is that the casino owners prefer hiring outsiders to Goans. The majority of employees of Pride casinos are from Nepal. Almost a thousand of them even registered as voters for the Lok Sabha elections. It was Rohan Khaunte who discovered the scam and had their registration cancelled. Nepal is an independent country and only Indian citizens can vote in elections in India.
The casino lobby is also trying to capture real estate and get conversions done. The Pride group is putting up an 8-storey structure in Bay View area in Dona Paula, apparently to save money on hotel rooms they provide to big gamblers.
The owner of Deltin, Jaydev Mody, was stopped from illegally putting up a helipad at his residence in Verem. It is obvious that the casino lobby is so strong that nobody can remove them from the Mandovi river or Goa.