CLOSED: Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, who was demanding that tourists resorts should not be shut down as it would affect the livelihood of Goans, has now declared a complete lockdown in the northern beach belt. In any case most of the shacks are shut with an 80% footfall in tourism arrivals.
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to take advantage of the violence following his party’s humiliating defeat in West Bengal to impose President’s rule in the state. For a Saturday following the week when the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Modi government for its failure to supply the allotted quota of 700 metric tonnes of oxygen per day to New Delhi. For a Saturday following the week when the panchayats, in defiance of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, decided to impose their own complete lockdowns in various parts of the Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the CM ironically blamed the dean of the Goa Medical College & Hospital Dr Shivanand Bandekar, for the shortage of beds and oxygen and which claimed the life of a woman who died waiting in her car. For a Saturday following the week when the Board of Cricket Control in India is estimated to have suffered a loss of more than Rs2,000 crore due to the postponement of the IPL league. For a Saturday following the week when Kangana Ranaut was suspended from Twitter for a provocative post on the violence following the election in West Bengal.
REVENGE AGAINST MAMTA
AND a few stray thoughts on Narendra Modi attempting to takeover West Bengal by crook since he couldn’t win it by hook. It may be recalled that despite intense campaigning by both Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and a biased Election Commission, the Trinamool Congress won by a landslide margin. The BJP which claimed that it was going to demolish Didi and sweep the poll could not even get a hundred seats. Unfortunately, in an embarrassment for Mamta, she lost the Nandigram seat to her close friend turned enemy, Suvendu Adhikari, by a small margin. Though Mamta Banerjee asked for a recount the presiding officer refused her demand.
Mamta pointed out that till the server had crashed following an interruption in power supply she was leading by more than 8,000 votes. When the counting resumed her rival who had been promised the chief minister-ship by Amit Shah overtook her. Even the West Bengal High Court has questioned the decision of the EC to permit huge political rallies in the states going to the polls. Indeed, the Tamil Nadu High Court has accused the Election Commission of spreading covid-19 and has proposed levying charges of murder against EC officials. Our bearded sanyasi Narendra Modi, who was busy campaigning all through the mega second wave of covid-19, has reportedly called West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar and asked him to impose President’s rule.
The excuse was that the victorious Trinamool Congress workers had bashed up the BJP karyakarta. Not surprisingly the Left parties did not get a single seat though they ruled Bengal for 20 years. Didi on her part has accused the BJP “of growing desperate for President’s rule and instigating the communal clashes that claimed the lives of five Trinamool workers.” It seems illogical that the victorious party would bash up the losers.
It is however true that the Muslims in the State voted en bloc for Mamta Banerjee. As in Assam there are a lot of Muslims in West Bengal, most of whom are refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh. Mamta is planning to move the Supreme Court against the EC for refusing a recount in Nandigram constituency which she lost.
PANCHAYATS DEFY CM
AND a few stray thoughts on individual panchayats, particularly in the coastal belt, announcing their own much stricter lockdowns than that of the chief minister’s partial lockdown. Strangely, it is the Calangute MLA, Michael Lobo, who has been claiming that lockdown would hit the tourism industry and the livelihood of his voters, who in the end declared a total lockdown in the entire beach belt comprising Calangute, Candolim, Baga and even Anjuna and Morjim beach belts.
I presume Michael Lobo has realised that all the rest of Goa was turning against him for encouraging parties at Titos and Mambos at the height of the Covid spike. This time around several of the panchayats in south Goa have also joined the strict lockdown. The lead has been taken by Curtolim MLA Reginald Laurence who has been going around the village shutting down shops. There has also been a severe lockdown in the south Goa coastal belt including Colva, Benaulim, Majorda and Cansaulim. Even panchayats not on the beach land like those of Siolim and Salvador de Mundo and Penha de Franca have tightened the lockdown. The people of Cuncolim, who had led the revolt against the Portuguese, are also locked down and no business is allowed to function or anyone allowed to come out of their home and wander around.
Panaji MLA Atanasio Babush Monserrate, following the example of the panchayats, decided to keep the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) closed. He has also allegedly blocked the entry of Porvorim residents into Panaji. It may be noted that Porvorim has amongst the highest daily cases of the new double mutant virus. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant seems to have lost control of Goa! He has warned that villages are not empowered to impose their own restrictions. Never mind that amongst the villages imposing a complete lockdown is his own home municipal council of Sakhalim.
The CM lost the municipal council and the chairmanship to a Congress candidate. The CM has expressed the fear that independent lockdowns may trigger panic reactions from the people. The fact remains that the panic is already there with even Panaji residents getting very nervous if somebody in the neighbourhood has contracted the mutated covid viral infection.
Unfortunately, those who get tested accidently at their work place, are in denial. They opt for home isolation though an entire family of seven including the patient may be living in a single room. The patient refused to go to the GMC despite suffering severe symptoms. A senior doctor at the GMC asked me to send the young male patient but if he came late it would be too late! Young migrants are more afraid of losing their jobs than losing their life to covid-19. They believe that nothing will happen to them.
But despite this the Urban Health Centre and private hospitals have put a ceiling on the number of RT-PCR tests they would conduct every day. Even the Manipal and the Victor Apollo hospitals, running a testing centre at Miramar Residency, are open only between 10am and 1pm. The other problem with strict lockdowns is that it might trigger another ghar wapasi of migrants if they lose their job and are not able to pay for their rental premises.
CONTEMPT AGAINST CENTRE
AND a few stray thoughts on the Delhi High Court Bench serving contempt notice to the Centre for not supplying national capital Delhi the allotted amount of oxygen. It had been agreed between the Delhi government and the Centre that Delhi needed 700 metric tonnes per day to meet its requirements. There have been any number of cases in Delhi hospitals including the famous Gangaram Hospital, which is the favourite of Sonia Gandhi, where people have died for want of oxygen. Commenting on the attitude of the Central government, the HC Bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Patil, observed “It pains us that the aspect of supply of oxygen for treatment of covid patients in Delhi should be viewed in the way it has been done by the Central government. We are seeing the grim reality every day of people not being able to secure oxygen or ICU beds. You may want to be an ostrich which buries its head in the sand but we will not do so.” They have therefore directed the Central government to show cause as to why contempt action should not be initiated for non-compliance of court order but also the SC order passed on April 30. Two senior officials of the Central government, Piyush Goel and Sumita Dawra, were directed to be present during the hearing in court to explain why Delhi has not received 700 MT of liquid oxygen per day? It demanded a compliance order from the Centre by midnight of May 3.
CM BLAMES THE DEAN
BACK in Goa the oxygen shortage has reached very serious proportions. A 49-year-old woman from Betalbatim testing covid positive died in her car while waiting for several hours outside a south Goa hospital for urgent medical attention on May 4. According to Sarpanch Constancio Miranda she was taken to the South Goa District Hospital at around 6 pm on Tuesday by her husband. But she was refused entry into the hospital compound because of the large number of patients already inside the causality ward. She stayed with her husband in her car, patiently awaiting her turn. As the hours passed her condition became worse and she died in her husband’s arms, the last rites were due to be performed the following day on Wednesday.
At the GMC too there was panic when levels of the central flow of oxygen for non-invasive ventilators (NIV) dipped around 7pm on Tuesday, May 4. This forced the doctors to shift critical patients to other wards. We understand that a fall in the level of oxygen at the GMC has been responsible for many fatalities in the last few weeks. The CM is aware that the shortage in oxygen is because Health Minister, Vishwajit Rane, gave the job of providing oxygen to a company called Scoop on a 10-year contract.
Since Scoop had acquired a monopoly other medical oxygen suppliers closed their units. While all the government hospitals may be gasping for oxygen, the owner of Scoop has been offering precious oxygen on Facebook at Rs300 per cylinder subject against a deposit of Rs5,000. There is extensive black marketing in the sale of oxygen cylinders. The Vedanta corporate giant, which now owns Sesa Goa, is reported to have gifted 150 oxygen concentrators to Pramod Sawant.
Oxygen Concentrators, unlike cylinders, do not have to be refilled and work 24×7. The only problem is that they can deliver only a maximum of five cubic litres of oxygen per second whereas the requirement for serious patients exceeds 15 litres per second. Nobody knows where the oxygen concentrators gifted to the chief minister have gone. We checked out on our Facebook post on some Shruti Chakraborty, claiming to be from Old Goa, who was offering to organise oxygen for those who needed them. She told me that she had put up the covid website. However, Commodore Bhatia, in whose name the website is registered, claims that he does not know anything about her!
Every hour there is a Facebook post giving a list of suppliers of oxygen. People are so desperate that they may not bother to check whether the parties are genuine. As far as we know the only genuine agency which supplies oxygen is Falcon which is managed by Regan Gonsalves.
Not willing to enter into a confrontation with Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the poor CM is now blaming the poor dean Dr Dr Shivanand Bandekar for the oxygen fiasco for he has been running the entire government covid system so far.
The Goa Association of Resident Doctors (GARD) holds the CM responsible for the oxygen crises. The CM, however, is passing the buck to Principle Health Secretary Puneet Kumar Goel. Between these blame games dozens of people are losing their life every day.
IPL POSTPONEMENT LOSS
AND a few stray thoughts on the postponement of the India Premiere Cricket League (IPL). The cost that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will incur is over Rs5,000 crore. Though the BCCI is claiming that it has only postponed the remaining matches in the tournament it is unlikely that it will resume. As in the case of the Asian League Football Tournament many of the foreign players and coaches have already started leaving the country. They are nervous that they may be locked down in the country if Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides to declare another six month lockdown. The expectation is that to make up for his election losses Modi might order a fresh national lockdown.
Modi is concerned that the BJP losses in Bengal and other states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu is having an impact on Uttar Pradesh also. In the on going panchayat election in UP, the Samajwadi Party has won more than 800 panchayats and Independents are leading in an additional 3,500 panchayats.
Amit Shah seems to have disappeared since the losses suffered by the party and may be somebody else will replace him as home minister of the country. The losses due to the postponement of the IPL are primarily due to the loss of advertisement revenue for the live coverage of the matches. Since audiences are not allowed to watch the matches on the ground, the telecasts are fetching even more revenue. If the IPL gets cancelled, Star India which is the official broadcaster, will refuse to pay the remaining Rs1,700 crore. Title sponsored by VIVO and official partners TATAS may also not pay the committed dues.
TWITTER TERMINATE KANGANA
AND a last stray thoughts on the decision of Twitter to terminate actor Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter account. Kangana had posted a provocative tweet in favour of the BJP on the post-election violence in West Bengal. She has a following of over three million people. Defending herself on Instagram, Kangana insisted “Twitter has only proved my point that they are Americans and by birth as white persons feel entitled to enslave a brown person. They want to tell you what to think, speak and do. Fortunately I have my own platforms where I can raise my voice.”