LETTER TO THE EDITOR FOR THE ISSUE DATED 31ST OCTOBER 2020

SEEKING WELLBEING IN GREEN ENVIRONMENT

Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated India’s flagship event, the Green Building Congress 2020. This 18th edition of the congress ishosted by CII’s Indian Green Building Council and the theme is hygiene, health and wellbeing in a green environment. Over Oct 29, 30 and 31 the virtual congress will impart information and promote the green buildings movement. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu stressed, “Climate change is as real as daylight. It is imperative for nations to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection. Economy and ecology can coexist if one respects nature and panchabuta or elements of nature.” Other speakers included Chandrajit Banerjee (director general, CII), V Suresh (IGBC chairperson) and Jamshyd Godrej who said green buildings are a huge opportunity to slow down a rapidly warming earth. The congress’ comes with a 30-day online expo showcasing latest green building technologies, green products and services from the world over.

VACCINE RESEARCH PLEASE

EXPERTS are warning us that the vaccines that will be rolled out for the Covid-19 will have come too soon. Meaning, that proper, well laid down measures that were used in past vaccines, will have been compromised. This can be disastrous and what with everyone aware of this they will hesitate to take the vaccine.
Viral diseases have no cure but to date nothing has been done on this front. The next best thing that research must concentrate on is quicker and cheaper test kits that can be self-conducted and are reliable. Imagine, if one could self-swab the mouth, put to a test paper much like the litmus paper, and get a result as reliable as the RT-PCR. Even if it cost a Rs100 it could be used easily for checking at movies or exam halls or weddings, etc, and conducted more freely.
At present the Union Ministry says that the Feluda paper test kit will be rolled out in a few weeks. Pricing is reportedly Rs500 which is far too high for popular use. With 96% sensitivity and 98% specivity as against the RT-PCR of 95% and 99% this is quite good. However, only authorised RT-PCR labs are allowed to use this. The need of the hour is a low cost, home usable paper test kit. Research must go this way.
—R Fernandes, Margao

SHIFT SOLID WASTE TREATMENT PLANT
ON deeper introspection I have realized the folly of setting up a solid waste treatment plant at Bainguinim because of its closeness to the World Heritage Site of Old Goa with its ornate churches and in particular the Basilica de Bom Jesus, as well as the iconic Sè Cathedral. Both will be affected. Along with the holy city which is a tourist attraction with discerning tourists coming from far and wide. Besides the churches other monuments such as the Santa Monica Convent which houses the Museum of Christian Art as well as the St Cajetan Church among others which contain marvels of intricately crafted Renaissance architecture. It can never be replicated.
Also, the residents of Old Goa as well as neighbouring Corlim, Carambolim, St Andrè and other villages nearby are up in arms against this waste treatment plant. It is the duty of the North Goa MP and the MLAs of Tiswadi which areas will benefit from the plant who scout around and offer an alternate site.
The monuments of Old Goa with its unique old world charm exists. No waste treatment plant should come up here in close vicinity. Goa does not even have an efficient disaster management response plan in place to deal with the effects of a malfunctioning plant, and what about industrial depreciation of machinery at 10-15% per year, which means the plant can be guaranteed for 10 years only at the most.
The people of Panaji and Taleigao already face incompetency of garbage collection, heavy accumulation and foul smell by the roadsides which is endemic all over the city limits. Prudence alone necessitates an alternate site.
—Stephan Dias, Dona Paula, Panaji

IMPOSE GUIDELINES STRICTLY!
TOURISM is here but there is no rise in Covid-19 cases and beds are going empty in hospitals! No increase in deaths can be explained by hypothesis that most tourists who have come to Goa must already have been positive and now turned negative, so are not infective to others and have come to Goa to enjoy. As already more than seven days have passed after tourist sector opened up without significant rise in new cases.
That does not mean we must relax. We need to follow wearing of masks, maintain social distancing and hand washing at all times, and the government authorities must impose strict guidelines to be observed by all.
—Dr Shekar Salker, Bicholim

CM’S STYLE OF GOVERNANCE!
CHIEF Minister Pramod Sawant should stop this blame game and come to terms with the fact that it is his own inefficiency that is responsible for the total collapse of administration in Goa. It is not the websites of 80 departments which are non-existent but the fact that the entire administration has collapsed and the sons of the red soil of Goa suffer while outsiders get their work done immediately. The government works with alacrity when it comes to Adani’s double tracking of railway tracks despite people’s opposition to this project.
While it does nothing to help Goans with regard to the deadly Covid pandemic! None of the helplines announced for Covid were or are working and even ambulances were not available; people had to pay high prices for taxi services to be dropped off to hospital. So much for this bhivpachi garaz na government!
The CM instead of taking steps to deal with Covid pandemic blamed people for their carelessness and blamed people for the high death rate for coming to hospital too late. While the government has no dearth of funds to finance works aimed at helping Adani, there are no funds for the people of Goa, see how even seafarers have not been paid their pension, with Laadli Lakshmi and DDSSY scheme useless for helping out Covid patients.
Instead the government is in fact taxing Goans by making them pay hefty fees for Covid treatment in private hospitals as payment for it through DDSSY in private hospitals was withdrawn and the situation in government hospitals is scandalous. At the GMC patients were lying on the floor and ESI hospital turned away patients.
That the administration has collapsed is further established as witnessed by how even courts have been monitoring the investigation carried out by police as seen in the order by Judge Shahir Issan with regards to Maina-Curtorim police investigating a case of forgery committed to sell land to outsiders. CM should start working for Goa and Goans and not Adani and streamline his administration instead of playing games. Goa has never seen such an incapable CM!
— Rahul Mhambre, Aam Aadmi Party convenor, Panaji

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