BLAME GAME: Covid-19 is not limited to Dharavi and other slums in Mumbai but has spread to the upmarket areas housing the bold and the beautiful. The residence are blaming they are maids and building guards for infecting them
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when we were made aware of large scale corruption in the recruitment of Awal Karkuns (UDCs in Revenue Department). For a Saturday following the week when further injustice was done to garbage collectors and other menial employees of the Corporation of City of Panaji. For a Saturday following the week when total confusion over the extension of online education at all levels continued. For a Saturday following the week when Governor Satya Pal Malik was dissatisfied with the manner in which the Covid-19 pandemic is being managed by the State government.
And a few stray thoughts on the bungling at the very first level of recruitment for “Awal karkun,” the UDCs in the Revenue Department. The Revenue Department is the heart of the administration as a citizen is dependent on it for basic necessities. It is the Revenue Department which issues ration cards and domicile certificates. It is the office of the Mamladar who is assisted by Awal Karkun who verify eligibility for residence certificate. Indeed, the face or dealing hand of the Revenue Department headed by the collector of each district is the Awal Karkun.
This is a very coveted post as it leads to direct promotion to the post of mamladar. The mamladar in addition to all other routine duties like issuing of certificates is also responsible for deciding implementation of the Tenancy Act. Under the Tenancy & Munkar Act passed by the first elected government of Goa headed by Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar.
Chief Minister Bandodkardecided that the land should be sold by the bhatkar to the actual tiller at a token price. Goa also has had a tradition of big bhatkar employing a lot of munkar to work in the house or assist in the harvesting of crops, plucking of coconuts, etc. Both tenants and munkar were treated like slaves during the Portuguese regime which need the supports of the bhatkar. It was the collusion between the Portuguese regime and the bhatkar which was broken by Goa’s first chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar, who himself came from the lower Bahujan caste.
As in other parts of India where the socialist Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had amended the land laws to ensure that it was the tiller who would get the land, in Goa there was no such law till Dayanand Bandodkar passed the Tenancy & Munkar Act. The Portuguese civil code however created problems in the implementation of the act. This is because under the new Tenancy & Munkar Act only one or two tenants or munkar could purchase the land at token price. In Goa all landed property has to be shared equally among brothers and sisters and all other members of the extended family. To gain ownership of the land the concerned munkar or tenant had to get the name of the bhatkar removed from the land register and have his name substituted. It is the Awal Karkun who does the verification of the list of tenants and munkar given to him by the Panchayat. There are big opportunities not only to get a good salary but also to make money on the side to move the file faster.
It is self-evident that exams for recruitment of staff for any department should not be conducted by the same department. To give an example, the appointment of account officers and accountants is done not by the Director of Accounts but the Goa Public Service Commission. Earlier, exams for other posts including class 2, 3 and 4 which is for clerks and peons or drivers was also conducted by the GPSC which was an independent body. But because it did not benefit and could not appoint members from their own constituency they changed the system.
There is in fact a quota for every MLA when recruitment is done in any department. Which is why the Health Department has a majority of ayahs and attendants from the health minister’s constituency. Similarly, in the Police Department every MLA would like his own supporters to be appointed as constables in the local police stations. In the case of the Revenue Department the recruitment for 16 posts of AK should have been done by some other department. Instead, it was done by the Revenue Department itself. Even worse, the Revenue Department sub-contracted the job of conducting the exams to the Government Polytechnic at Altinho.
The AK needs to have knowledge of law and rules relating to Tenancy & Munkar Act. He also must know about the various certificates issued by the collector, etc. The polytechnic which primarily deals with technical subjects is not qualified for either setting papers or correcting them. When a student we know who was rejected sought information under the Right to Information Act he discovered that the manner in which the exam was conducted was full of mistakes. This is like the teacher making mistakes when he is teaching his students. The information obtained under the RTI revealed many faults.
Just an analysis of the first seven of the over 4,000 candidates who appeared shows the extent of corruption. In the case of candidate Tivrekar Ranjeeta Shailesh (Roll No.6157) there were 16 double markings. Which meant that while on the answer sheet the marks recorded were 23 on the notice board put up by the Revenue Department the marks were shown much higher at 43. There were also many cases of double marking which was not penalized as they should have been. Double marking is the expression for marking two choices in a multiple choice question. Students appearing for the exams are expected to use a special ink pen to write the exam. This ink makes it easy for the examiners to put the answer papers in a double marking scanner which detects the number of double marking. The machine was not used and the double marking was checked manually which naturally led to many mistakes.
Amongst the candidates who applied for the post was the nephew of the Cuncolim MLA Clafasio Dias who has tested positive for Covid-19. The procedure is that the certificates submitted by the candidate by his HSSC is verified only after he/she is selected. The minister’s nephew got a call letter claiming that he had been selected and was requested to submit his certificate again for verification. It was then found that the institution from which he had obtained the HSSC certificate was not recognized. There are many universities all over the country which keep giving degrees and even doctorates without holding any classes or exams! Many of hotel management institutes in Goa claim association with universities which do not exist.
AND a few stray thoughts on the extension of Covid-19 containment in Cambrabhat and Chimbel which has badly affected the regular garbage collectors and other lower cadre staff of the CCP. While some of them like the head of the garbage collection department were recently confirmed, the majority of employees continue to live on daily wages. When there were Covid-19 cases reported in Cambrabhat and Chimbel the workers were asked to stay at home for a quarantine period of 14 days. By this schedule they were expected to rejoin duty from Monday, July 20. These workers do not get paid if they do not report to work even for a half day. Many of them are eager to return to work as they have to make enough money for observing Ganesh Chathurthi coming up.
It is not only in the case of Cambrabhat and Chimbel but in many panchayats and industrial estates, even without directions from Disaster Management Authority villagers are themselves declaring lockdowns. For instance all the employees of the courts at Spaces Building and those who work for the Registrar of Land Records & Marriages, who were asked to stay at home for 14 days. Even in these departments there are many daily wage workers. The whole policy of deciding of containment zones is unscientific and arbitrary.
Containment means that all activity in the area comes to a stop which includes shops and even banks. In the case of industrial estates even if one employee is found positive, the whole factory is closed. It is true that in some factories like Tulip Diagnostics as many as 136 of the 400 workers were found coronavirus positive. But when the contact tracing was done it was found that Tulip Diagnostics employees who tested positive were not from Cuncolim but from Mongor Hill, Vasco da Gama. The residents of Cuncolim are angry because they are being victimized because the factory employed people from Mongor Hill. In the case of many villages, the latest being Siolim, the locals themselves have enforced a lockdown because a shopkeeper here tested positive.
AND a few stray thoughts on why Governor Satya Pal Malik is very unhappy with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant with regard to the management of Covid-19 pandemic in Goa. The last one week ending Monday has been particularly bad with more than a 100 cases being reported daily. In addition the number of deaths have increased by over 100%. As against less than half-a- dozen deaths in the first two weeks the count is almost touching 20 now. The number of patients testing positive are far in excess of the capacity of the ESI Hospital.
The biggest setback for Goa’s Covid-19 management program is that Nodal Officer In-charge of the ESI Hospital Dr Edwin Gomes has himself tested positive. It is very rare for medical personnel working in exclusively Covid-19 hospitals to register positive. At least in theory such hospitals are expected to take very good care of their healthcare staff including nurses and attendants. This involves insuring that they get the best PPE equipment so that there is no possibility of any exposure to the coronavirus. But the coronavirus is some kind of a chalu cheeze which take advantage of the slightest chinks in the armor of healthcare givers. It is alleged that as in all other departments of the government there was massive corruption in purchase of equipment to fight Covid-19. It is further rumoured that Dr Edwin Gomes may have got infected perhaps because PPEs given to him were not of the topmost quality and 100% leak proof. The medical staff at the Covid-19 hospital are called angels of mercy for taking the many risks they take attending risky patients.
The hospitals are also expected to provide very nutritious food not only to patients but also to the medical staff. The greater the immunity of patients and medical staff the faster the safer they are. Dr Edwin Gomes is Head of the Department of Medicine which is a huge department in the GMC, it has eight units and over 20 doctors especially selected to look after the hospital’s Covid-19 patients. The fact that he got infected has created panic amongst the rest of the doctors staff. No doctor from the department wants to go to the ESI Hospital!
Fortunately, former superintendent of the GMC, Sunanda Amonkar, has now taken charge of the ESI hospital. Look out for our helpline which gives you contact numbers of all the persons involved in fighting Covid-19. This includes telephone numbers of doctors in charge of all the Primary Health Centres in Goa.
ONLINE EDUCATION BLUES
AND some last stray thoughts on confusion over the introduction of online education system. The state Education Department has switched to online teaching and learning arrangement at all levels, including primary and KG. This is because none of the educational institutions have the space to ensure there is sufficient physical distance between students in any class. While students in the higher classes from the 9th standard onward may be able to understand online teaching, younger students find it difficult. They want personal interaction with the teachers. The government should consider reducing the number of hours and introducing a shift system so that 1/3rd of the enrolled students can come in turns. So that there is enough physical distance and regular classes can be held instead of online classes.
DR. Utkarsh Betodkar 2225538
Dr Sunanda Amonkar 9822129283
(Nodel Officer ESI Hospital)
Dr. Shivanand Bandekar 2495010
Medical Superintendent 2458730
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS
CHC Canacona 2643422
CHC Curchorem 2650566
CHC Pernem 2201249
CHC Valpoi 2375297
PRIMARY HEALTH CENTERS
PHC Aldona 2293251
PHC Balli 2670965
PHC Betki 2287160
PHC Bicholim 2362041
PHC Candolim 2489035
PHC Cansaulim 2754036
PHC Canservornem 2205222
PHC Chinchinin 2863237
PHC Colvale 2299870
PHC Corlim 2285769
PHC Cortalim 2550274
PHC Curtorim 2786206
PHC Loutulim 2777140
PHC Marcaim 2392230
PHC Quepem 2662636
PHC Usgao 2344221
PHC Sanguem 2604235
PHC Sanquelim 2364258
PHC Shiroda 2307072
PHC Siolim 2272687 PHC Dharbandora 2344221
PHC Ponda 2319006
PHC Porvorim 2411991
PHC Mayem 2447512
URBAN HEALTH CENTERS
UHC Mapusa 2262226
UHC Margao 2715004
UHC Panaji 2426495
UHC Vasco 2512307