ABSURD: Governor of Maharashtra & Goa Bhagat Singh Koshyari has written a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray telling him he should ashamed to call himself a Hindu for he has permitted bars to open but places of worship closed!
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant promised “Har Ghar Jal.” For a Saturday following the week when the Governor of Goa wrote a nasty letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackarey. For a Saturday following the week when the inclusion of Covid-19 in the DDSSY scheme was scraped from coming in useful courtesy private hospital lobby. For a Saturday following the week when under pressure from big hotels the Food & Drug Administration cracked down on home catering businesses. For a Saturday following the week when there was a big economic slum in the economy. For a Saturday following the week when Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagganmohan Reddy lodged a complaint against the Andhra judges on Supreme Court benches.
cm voters water less
And a few stray thoughts on when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant promised that every house in Goa will get drinking water for 24 hours. Ironically, the people of his constituency Sanquelim themselves do not get water on tap in their homes. Because of heavy rains there may be lots of water out on the roads. There may be lots of water in huge potholes including, a pothole at the Atal Sethu bridge. All the dams in the state are full. But there are large parts of Goa including capital city Panaji which are dependent on tanker water. There are only small parts of Panaji upto the Miramar Circle perhaps which get piped water from the PWD for a few hours in the day.
None of the gated colonies that have come up in the stretch from Miramar Circle to Dona Paula get drinking water. The new constructions that have come up at the Bambolim plateau like premier residential complexes like Aldeia-de-Goa are dependent on tankers. Most of the gated colonies have dug tube wells to supply water to their customers. This has led to a major decline in the water table. It is estimated that if uncontrolled digging of tube wells take place there will be no water left underground.
Historically, in Goan villages the people have always relied on wells for their drinking water. But villages have become urbanised and their wells have become dry. This is because tube wells take away the underground water reservoirs. Believe it or not, the huge Kadamba Plateau developments do not even have a water pipeline. There is of course no question of slum colonies getting piped drinking water. So the promise of Chief Minister Sawant is not likely to be fulfilled even in a decade yet.
The failure of Goa is that it does not do rain harvesting on any useful scale. Goa gets huge quantities of rain water annually particularly during the monsoon months and the latest metrological forecast is that there are going to be very heavy rains in the next four days as off Wednesday this gone week. He heavy rains caused by depressions formed in the Bay of Bengal also prevent fishing craft from going out to the sea.
But the story is not only is there is no water in the taps, but no fish on the table. Everyone seems to have forgotten the controversy over the imported fish from Karwar and elsewhere being contaminated with formalin.
bars open temples closed in maha
And a few stray thoughts on war breaking out between Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari who is a Konkan Muslim. The governor has ordered the Chief Minister Uddhav to immediately open all places of worship. All the religious places ranging from the famous Siddhivinayak temple to the Haji Ali Mosque have been closed under the excuse of Covid-19 pandemic. Though churches have opened all over the country including Goa, they are still closed in Mumbai. The governor in his letter has blamed the Shiv Sena for insulting Hinduism and in fact, all religions. The Shiv Sena is supposed to be a saffron party. It supported Hindutuva and was part of the group which demolished Babri Masjid. The governor has expressed surprised that a party so committed to Hindutuva has not allowed even Hindu temples to function.
In turn Thackeray told the governor he does not need any certificate from the governor to prove his loyalty to Hinduism. Thackeray quoted Narendra Modi saying that life is more important than religion! That he has postponed the re-opening of places of worship because of the very high Covid-19 figures in Mumbai. In fact, Mumbai leads the country in the number of Covid-19 deaths and numbers of positive cases continue to go up. To which the governor has pointed out that the Maharashtra government has allowed bars and liquor shops to remain open, while banning religious places.
delay is fatal
AND a few stray thoughts on reasons for the continued increase in Covid-19 cases in Goa. What is of greater concern is that the age group of fatal Covid-19 cases is under 40 years. There have been many cases of young men and women in their 20s dying of Covid-19 in the state. The youngest victim is an eight months old child. It is alarming that there are a number of cases where the victims are brought dead to the hospital. The cause of death being Covid-19 is known only after post-mortem or the symptoms at time of presentation. Head of Department of Pulmonary Medicine Dr Durga Lawande has blamed Goans for coming to hospital too late. Most younger patients who have lost their life to the infection were at the stage when pneumonia had already infected their lungs. The biggest danger with Covid-19 is that once it affects the lungs very little can be done to save the patient.
Even in the case of AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, his life was saved because oxygen was pumped at intensity through nasal route to clear his lungs. The AYUSH minister had indeed foolishly and naively depended on alternative medicine during the first week of his infection and got into deeper trouble. In contrast Donald Trump was cured in four days thanks to drug manufactured in Goa called Remdesivir (it’s manufactured in a pharma company CIPLA facility at Verna Industrial Estate). Dr Durga Lawande (Head of Pulmonary Medicine at GMC) has complained that many young people refuse to even do testing after they manifest clear symptoms. “I can understand people who do not have visible symptoms staying away from testing. But even young men and women with fever for over a week do not present for testing!
testing is fake?
FEW know the truth but the belief amongst all Goans is that the whole testing process is fake! Nobody wants to get tested because they believe that it is just a money making racket. Admittedly if you want to test yourself voluntarily you have to pay up to Rs 4,000. There are, however, private testing labs attached to the Victor hospital which offer concessional rates to companies. All units in the industrial estate are required to compulsorily test all their employees. This is because in big factories employing more than 200 workers a single case can lead to the spread of coronavirus to everyone. Many units in the Verna Industrial Estate have closed, reportedly there more than 50 cases were positive at Tulip Diagnostics. Gated colonies and even senior couples staying on their own in vulnerable conditions have contacted the contagion. We know at least one gated colony which insists that maids who want to be employed must produce Covid-negative certificates. Other colonies also place strict restrictions on servicing folk like plumbers, electricians and newspaper delivery boys, and insist they put in 14 days of home quarantine.
We do not know if there is any truth in the allegation that people are declared positive even if they are negative – courtesy some exchange of money. In the antigen test it has been found that whole positives are 90% correct, in the case of negative reports only 20% are correct. So people who have done antigen test but still show symptoms are required to do the PCR test. Those who are afraid of going to GMC or the Urban Health Centres or the Primary Health Centres can rely on the private laboratories which offer the testing facility for a hefty charge.
Victor hospital even sends its medical workers in full PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to take swab test sample at anyone’s residence for an average fee of 2,000 per person (family of four). The test samples are sent to Mumbai and you get the results in 24 hours; this is much better than the GMC or the centers attached to the Directorate of Health Services which take up to a week to deliver results.
If you have symptoms like continuous high fever above 103 deg F for a week along with sore throat and a sore throat and running nose you cannot take a risk. Do a test in time to save your life or run the risk of being declared near dead or dead on arrival at hospital later on when the patient’s lungs have been compromised by pneumonia. Dr Durga Lawande has appealed to Goans to do test themselves out if they have acute symptoms of Covide-19 before it gets into the lungs.
AND a few stray thoughts on the resumption of mining after almost a decade. The mining licenses which were cancelled on an appeal by Goa Foundation have not been renewed. The demand of the mining industry to calculate the tenure from 1989 instead of 1961 has yet to be accepted by the SC. The only concession that the SC has given is granting mining companies time till end-January 2021 to transport ore. The SC also directed the State government to take possession of the ore lying at mining leases at the end of this period by invoking powers under the mineral concession rule after serving one month’s notice. What this means is that if the mining companies do not lift and transport the ore in the dumps by the end of January it will be confiscated by the government.
We need to know the background of the mining dumps. Goa practices open cast mining. This means that unlike in places of coal mining you do not dig and go underground to extract the mineral. There are small traces of ore in the rocky areas of Goa. Goa miners chip off the rocks and filter them to separate waste from ore. In the normal course only ore with more than 62% iron content was considered suitable for export. There are no local takers for the ore extracted in Goa. Moreover the ore that is extracted in Goa is in the form of fines which means powder and not lumps as in Hospet and Bellary which produce the best ores in the country. The ores in Bellary which are in the form of lumps have an iron content of over 65%. Till the late 90s Goan ore used to be exported only to Japan and South Korea. This is because the iron content in Goan ore was only 55 to 58%. Even in Japan and Korea the ore exported from Goa was used in the mix and not directly to make iron.
This changed dramatically when China was selected as the venue for the Olympic Games on 13 July, 2001. China which normally keeps everything secret wanted to prove to the world that it was a super power which could compete with the United States. It built new stadiums for all the sports held in the Olympics. The main venue where the inaugural ceremony was held was called Bird’s Nest Stadium and it was constructed completely of steel. Because of China’s demand for ore even the discarded ore in the dumps came to be in demand. China was willing to accept even ore with 52% iron content.
Unlike Indian steel companies China had the capacity to make steel out of fines or powder. Many mines which had not converted the concessions granted by the Portuguese into leases now found it profitable to exploit the mines. On the day the SC suspended mining the industry had built up huge dumps of the waste material which had less than 50% iron content. Permission is now been granted to transport this ore which exceeds four million tonnes.
But a fight will break out over the transport of the ore because there are far more trucks than quantity of ore available for export. Many of the mining villages have suffered as mining units used to provide transport to the children who go to school, as also they ran primary health centres and offered other useful facilities to affected villages.
AND A last stray thought on the continued delay in government organisations like the ESG and the Waste Management Corporation paying dues for the advertising they put in our print edition. In addition to this companies many individuals who we will not name have also not paid us the relatively small amounts of money due to us like Rs10,000 and Rs15,000. The total dues have now exceeded over Rs1 lakh. If you go to a bank to borrow money they will charge you 18% interest on loans. In the case of private parties we can do bill discounting by the banks. But the public sector banks don’t trust the government and do not give these facilities. This has forced us to down sized even further.
However, we have decided to convert our infrastructure in the Goan Observer into a computer studio. This is located in an air-conditioned room with lazer scanner, printer and four fully loaded computers; uninterrupted internet facilities because of a 12-hour invertor backup. We invite start-ups to use this facilities for a nominal fee. There are many Goans, particularly senior citizen who are digitally illiterate. To all the students who want to apply for studies abroad or jobs or permanent migration we will be happy to fill your digital forms fully for you. Those who are digitally challenged like many senior citizens including me, are welcome to the facility.