GREY: Power & Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral is guilty of turning green Goa into a grey Goa with the mass cutting down of trees to set up a 420 watts power transmitter in the heart of Xeldem village
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when 99.7% of the 23,967 students who were assessed for the SSC exams were declared passed. For a Saturday following the week when the biggest destroyer of the environment in Goa is ironically Minister For Environment Nilesh Cabral in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when leaders of the Aam Aadmi party distributed cakes to 10 Congress MLAs who had defected to the BJP. For a Saturday following the week when the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome has started affecting the children in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the African origin football players of the English team which lost the Euro Cup were targeted both on the ground and the social media.
SSC LOSSES VALUE
AND a few stray thoughts on the valuation system for the key 10th standard exams which have been reduced to a farce by the Goa government. The fact that there were no exams online or offline, and that the results were based on internal assessment by individual schools, seems to have resulted in a competition. Not only to pass students but to grant them first class and distinctions like confetti.
In recent years also the percentage of students who cleared the SSC has been going up ranging from 90-92%. But never in the history of the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education has the percentage of passes touched 99.7%. Only 67 of the almost 24,000 students who were assessed failed the SSC exam.
In the assessment done by the schools in the covid-19 year almost 100% of the girls in the 10th standard at 99.9% were declared passed. In the case of the 13,000 boys 99.5% were declared passed. Even more shocking is the fact that of the 23,000 odd students who were assessed as many as 10,300 secured a first class and 4,400 secured distinctions. Which means that of the 23,000 students 15,000 students did exceptionally well.
Clearly the individual schools in collusion with the Board have rigged the results. May be part of the reason why the pass percentage and the first class percentage is so high, is because for the first time maths was split into two levels, namely, level 1 and level 2. The majority of students who failed in the past was because of less then pass marks in maths and science.
This year to make up for the inefficacy of the HSSC board in not conducting proper classes, the standard of maths for students wanting to do arts courses was reduced. The standard maths paper had to be answered only by students who wanted to pursue higher studies in science and engineering.
This is evident by the fact that the students who opted for the easier maths paper scored 63% out of 100 on an average. In the backward Sanguem and new district of Darbandora, all the schools got 100% pass. There is a story about Nazi Germany during the 2nd World War. The value of the German currency, the mark, fell to such an extent that citizens had to take trucks of currency notes to buy even a loaf of bread. In other words people had to pay the equivalent of Rs5 lakh for a loaf of bread. This seems to have been the case with the results of the SSC exam which was announced on Monday, July 12, 2021.
LANGUAGES TOPS SCORE
THE highest scores were interestingly in Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Kannada, French, Portuguese and Konkani in which all the students who appeared got 100% marks. Even in the so called higher level of maths 99.5% of the students who were assessed were declared passed. It may give the students and parents a great deal of satisfaction that they not only passed the exams but got first class and distinctions which are given to students who get more than 60%. But what is happening is that the quality of education is devalued and they will find it even more difficult to pass the Standard 12 exam which is mandatory for engineering and management courses.
SLAUGHTER OF FOREST
AND a few stray thoughts on the biggest destroyer of green Goa. Ironically, he is Minister for Environment Nilesh Cabral. While everyone’s mind has been diverted to the 400 KV transmitter in the centre of Mollem wildlife sanctuary, Cabral has reportedly diverted 150 hectares of other forest land in the State for power projects. Goa, the tiniest state in the country, has acquired the dubious distinction of being among the top ten states to murder trees for power projects.
The Environment Minister in the last one year alone has diverted 69.41, 48.3 and 28.24 hectares of adjacent forest land at Xeldem village for the setting up of power projects. All the three proposals to cut thousands of trees were approved in April 2020. It is not only trees that were cut but the wildlife in the areas which were molested by Nilesh Cabral. The forest reportedly were populated by tigers, panthers, wild bulls called gaurs and other spices of wildlife. It may be recalled that gaurs are the symbol of the Goa football team in the Indian Football League owned and organised by Nita Ambani, wife of Mukesh Ambani.
The forest land that was destroyed and diverted for laying transmission lines from Xeldem to Mapusa and this has resulted in the destruction of 69.41 acres of forest land. The total number of trees that were cut is estimated to be over 15,000. The only rejection to a proposal to divert forest land by the Rural Electricity Commission was two hectares of deemed forest apparently belong to the Ranes. It is obvious that the environment minister is the biggest threat to the State of Goa. Cabral is the biggest butcher of trees in the State.
If Nilesh Cabral is not sacked as there will be no forest or trees left in Goa and the State will witness the heat waves being experienced in distant Canada and eastern areas of USA currently where the temperature is shooting up to as high as 50 degree C.
EGG V/S CAKE WAR
AND a few stray thoughts on the leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) distributing cakes to the 10 Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP. Apparently, it was the brainwave of the new vice-president of AAP, former Congress Mahila Samaj chief, advocate Pratima Coutinho. The objective was to name and shame the MLAs who had defected from the Congress to the BJP, when Goa Forward and MGP withdrew support to the BJP after the death of Manohar Parrikar. It was reportedly Babush Monserrate who took the initiative and led the team of defectors into joining the BJP. Writ petitions are pending in the High Court and the Supreme Court against the order of Speaker Rajesh Patnekar, who upheld the defection of the 10 Congress MLAs.
It is relevant to note that the Speaker took more than a year to give a decision on the defections. He acted only after the SC instructed him to take an immediate call. Under the Constitution, the courts cannot interfere with the working of Parliament and Legislative Assembly. However, the courts can examine whether the decisions taken by the Speaker were in conformity with the Disqualification Act. Under the latest amendments to the Disqualification Act, if two-thirds of the MLAs of a party merge with the ruling party, it does not amount to defection. In this particular case of defection or merger 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs defected to the BJP. Of the 17 MLAs who were elected on the Congress ticket in the 2017 elections, two of them, Vishwajit Rane and Mauvin Godinho, had resigned from the Congress and got themselves re-elected on the BJP ticket.
Along with the 10 Congress MLAs two of the three MGP MLAs also joined the BJP. The whole idea of trying to shame the MLAs who had defected was stupid as our elected representatives do not have any shame. Right from the time the Goa got statehood in 1987, MLAs have treated the Assembly like a railway station or bus terminal to shift from one party to the other. The only ambition of the MLAs is to join the ruling party so that they may get a minister’s kodel.
Elections in Goa and the rest of the country are fought not to serve the people but to serve the interests of the successful candidates who win the elections. As we have pointed earlier, as against the three chief minister before statehood, there have been 18 governments between 1987 and 2021. Not only did most of the Congress- turned-BJP MLAs take the cake but also probably ate it or gave it to their dogs. The only exception was Wilfred D’Sa, popular called Babushan, whose wife reportedly threw eggs at the AAP leader who came to give her husband a cake. When the angry leaders tried to attack the Nuvem MLA, reportedly the BJP MLA Clafasio Dias, came to his help. The AAP should have offered the defecting MLAs snakes instead of cake.
Curiously, the big boss of the AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, has not made any statement on the custodial murder of Fr Stan Swamy. Nor has he made any comment on the reported demolition of a church in New Delhi. At the press conference he addressed in Goa, Kejriwal evaded the issue by claiming that the church came under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Development Authority and was allegedly demolished on the basis of a High Court order.
The general perception of the AAP in Goa is that it is the Team B of the BJP. Ironically, the Congress is also perceived as secretly extending support to the BJP.
MIS CASES INCREASING
AND a few stray thoughts on few covid-19 cases making a comeback after registering zero deaths and just 108 cases on Monday, July 12. On Tuesday however, the number of fatalities were four and the number of new cases went up to 164. Much more worrying is the emergence of the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS) among children in Goa. The MIS syndrome starts after recovery from covid-19 infection or some time along with active covid-19 infection. It mostly affects children above seven and teenagers.
In the last two months GMC has treated 14 such cases of which one patient died. These MIS cases are increasing and have arisen from six in May to nine in June. The girls who died of MIS were five years old. The Head of the Paediatric Department Dr Maria Silvera, has revealed that so far there have been no cases of MIS in July 2021. The most disturbing aspect of MIS is the cost of the medicines used to treat the condition. Even if the child weighs 20kg the cost of Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG) comes to Rs80,000 to Rs1 lakh.
Which is why private hospitals do not admit MIS patients and refer them to GMC. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has declared that he will lift the curfew only when the positivity rate drops even further. Even though the positivity rate is below 5% curfew has been extended to July 19, with additional permission granted for re-opening of gyms and beauty salons.
RACIST ATTACK AT WEMBLEY
AND a last stray thought on the outbreak of racist attacks on the three African members of the English football team. In the Euro Cup final, held at the notorious Wembley Stadium in London between Italy and England, no goals were scored during the regular match timing. The organisers had to resort to penalty shootouts to decide the results.
For those not familiar with football, under the penalty shootout, each team is permitted five chances to score a goal with no other players between them and the goal keeper. Unfortunately for England they could convert only two of the five penalty shots as against Italy which scored three times. The much coveted Euro Cup which England has been waiting for more than 50 years was won by Italy on the margin of three to two.
By an unfortunate coincidence the three British players who failed to convert the penalty strokes into goals were of African origin and including a teenager. Though England played a very good game luck was not on their side. But the angry fans blamed Britain’s loss on the players of African origin. Not only were there attempts to assault them on the ground itself but there were vicious comments on social media.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince of Wales Charles who is the heir to the English throne also deplored the racist attack and the outbreak of violence in London.
The interesting part is that all the 60,000 spectators who witnessed the match had taken both doses of the vaccine, but they did not follow covid-19 norms like wearing masks or maintaining physical distance. It is to be seen if the presence of such a large number of fans at the Euro Cup final will lead to a fresh wave of covid-19 in the UK. Worldwide there are fears about the spread of the Delta Plus variant of covid-19.