VOTES: Over two lakh voters in ten constituencies have been dependent on mining for their survival. Most of them are bankrupt, including shopkeepers, saloon owners, tyre repair shop keepers and liquor bars.


AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant sacrificed Goa to covid-19 under pressure from Lord Ganesh bhakt. For a Saturday following the week when Reliance Digital seems to be the main beneficiary of the covid-19 pandemic in the country. For a Saturday following the week when despite large scale angry protests, work on the double tracking of South Western Railways continued. For a Saturday following the week when the Supreme Court made it clear that the State government had to follow its directions on the suspension of mining. For a Saturday following the week when I was considering filing a criminal and civil defamation suit for Rs1,000 crore damages against the Goa Medical College & Hospital, for the continuing damage caused by Head of the Department of Medicine by attempting to be kind to be cruel.


AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Pramod Sawant succumbing to pressure from devout Ganesh bhakt. Pramod has withdrawn the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for the Chavath festival. The chief minister is not willing to learn from a lesson from the Kerala example where post-Onam revelry there has been a huge spike in Covid-19 cases. Goa’s CM has even gone to the extent of claiming that there is no need for any Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs).
According to dumbo Pramod Sawant, if Goans take precautions there would be no need to issue new SOPs. The chief minister knows fully that it is because people are suicidal that SOPs have to be enforced.


IN the SOPs issued on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 Goa had banned priests from visiting houses during the Ganesh Chaturthi holidays for performing puja. Presumably, our CM thought that every Goan would find a priest to perform a virtual puja over Zoom app or through video call. The SOPs had also stipulated that only a maximum 5% of family could attend to the vissarjan or immersion of Lord Ganesh deity on the various days. But there is no specified number of how many visit a home for Ganesh puja.
But later the CM backtracked and claimed that Ganesh Chaturthi or Chavath in Goa is a is a State festival and everyone will need the family bhat or priest to visit their home for conducting the main puja. I cannot understand why puja cannot be recorded or played even courtesy smart mobile phone — which is what the Sidhivinayaka temple, Mumbai’s most famous temple, does.
In contrast priests in Goa visit hundreds of homes a day to conduct Chavath puja, hence they could be super carriers of Covid-19. The SOPs should have at least made it mandatory for all priests who come to Goa from outside the state to conduct puja in homes should have taken both their Covid-19 tikka. Priests visiting homes for puja at this critical time are particularly dangerous, because of Covi-19 third wave fears that the infection will start by end-September 2021. There are already children with Covid-19 reported at the GMC’S paediatric ward

IN THEORY there are a number of rules stipulated for the celebration of Chavath. Plaster of Paris images are supposed to be strictly banned. The image makers are also required to use only vegetable dyes and not chemical dyes. But visit any of the Ganesh idol stalls in the market and you will find them full of very colourful plaster of Paris images for sale.
Even the Panaji Sarvajanik Ganesh is a POP highly decorated and coloured Lord Ganesh. In theory the CM claims that Section 144 will continue to be enforced even during Ganesh Chaturthi. Under Section 144 more than four people cannot gather at one place. If you saw the traffic jam in Panaji on Tuesday, September 7, and the hectic preparations for the festival in Margao, everyone should have been arrested including Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
If some families have Covid-19 patients in home isolation, according to CM, they should take all precautions. Surely it is the business of the Health Department and Primary Health Centres to make these precautions possible. The CM has also insisted that those coming from other states should have taken both vaccination doses. They should also have a negative RT-PCR test.
Now, does this mean that there will be no vegetables and fruit from the jungles of Belgavi for this year’s matoli purchasing? Matoli, you may recollect is the bountiful canopy of local wild fruit, vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, grasses, etc, which takes pride of place wherever there is a Lord Ganesh installation in Goan homes and localities.


AND a few stray thoughts on Reliance and other telecom companies being the major beneficiary of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the entire world has turned digital, Reliance has decided to follow the example. Their new company, Reliance Digital, has been launched for personalised technology. The range of Reliance Digital is frightening. They will cover 5,000 products and 300 brands. They also claim that they will provide easy finance for the purchase of digital products which will be coming out in the market. Reliance will go a step further and claim it will deliver products in three hours for online shopping customers. There will be no curfews and lockdowns and Reliance Digital will be open 365 days. What about the covid-19 risk factor for those who will deliver the fancy digital products?
Reliance has been boasting for some time about coming out with a top end mobile for US50 dollars (Rs3,600) which will be the smartest smart phone in the world. Both Reliance and Tata Consultancy Services are talking about making semi-conductors in India which are the basic building blocks of mobiles and computers. There is already a severe shortage of semi-conductors which are used in a wide range of applications including auto-mobiles, and in fact, there is a shortage of cars because they are not enough semi-conductors to go around.
The TCS has already acquired a company to create the infrastructure to ensure better connectivity for digital platforms. Reliance of course is looking at the complete range including creating software platforms to meet all the e-learning needs of the country. They may be no jobs available for contract labour. There may be no jobs available for graduates and post- graduates. But there will be plenty of jobs for those who are digitally trained. It is not a coincidence that Reliance already has a communication and digital management institute to meet the manpower needs of this industry. As it is Reliance has closed down Vodaphone and Idea by changing the revenue pattern from voice calls to data. Reliance is also instigating the Narendra Modi government to demand huge user charges and taxes from the operations of the company in the past.
The Modi government has systematically destroyed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which has historically been the telecommunication gateway of the country. We have no doubt that it will also take over the International Wing of VSNL (Vedesh Sanchar Nigam Ltd) which is primarily used by call centres for mass connections between India and rest of the world with their underwater cables.


IT is not just Reliance and the other telecom companies which will benefit from the digital revolution. The other sector gaining will be the financial sector. The majority of the public and private sector banks have already turned digital. Never mind if 80% of the time their servers are down and you cannot withdraw or deposit money. This is primarily because the ATMs are outsourced to third parties. For all we know the ATMs may be filled with black money. Which is why the primary target is BSNL which is the only company which has an optic fibre cable network from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. BSNL is also the backbone of cable operators who string their cables on BSNL poles.


AND a few stray thoughts on the double- tracking of the South Western Railway and 250 voltage transmitter in Mollem sanctuary. This work continues despite the fact that the Supreme Court itself ordered that work on this project be stopped till the public hearings are complete.
In several parts of South Goa workers have been forced to abandoned their machines in the wake of local protests. Besides the double-tracking of the South Western Railway and the Mollem transmitter, the on-going expansion of national highways is also going on full swing. All this is a part of the Nitin Gadkari conspiracy to create extensive corridors for the movement of coal from the Adani coal mines in Australia through MPT to Hospet and other parts of Karnataka where the Adani and Jindal power and steel factories are located.
As the elections approach, attempts are being made to expedite the work. All of this should benefit the Congress which has been strongly opposing the three eco-unfriendly projects threatening to destroy Goa’s peace of mind on the green Goa ecology front, especially and mainly the double-tracking of South Western Railway.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Supreme Court making it clear that the State government has to follow the Supreme Courts directions on the suspension of mining. The SC, while dismissing the appeal of the State government on resuming mining in the state, passed on Tuesday, September 7, dismissed the appeal of a mining company to allow them to continue operating their mining leases till 2037. The State government has been trying its best to retain control of the approved 88 leases with the private mining companies whose operations came to a halt on March 15, 2018. The mining companies have demanded that Goa, Daman & Due (Abolition & Declaration of Mining Leases Act, 1987) should be made applicable from 1987 instead of 1961. Since the mining regulation act permits a lease holder to function for 50 years, the private company had argued that they are leases be extended till 2037.
The Supreme Court has now rejected the demand of the mining companies to extend the lease to 2037. On September 7, 2021 the SC dismissed the petition filed by 86 mining companies to extend the leases. The BJP is very concerned about the renewal of the mining leases as ten of the 40 constituencies in the State depend on mining for livelihood.
Besides being a source of income the mining companies have set up a number of social facilities like the supply of drinking water through tankers, many hospitals and transportation for students to reach their schools. All this facilities were withdrawn since the suspension of mining. It is estimated that around Rs2 lakh voters live in the mining belt.
Historically, the mining belt was the monopoly of the Congress party with Avdhoot Timblo of Fomento, a mining company. Formento was also alleged to have engaged in the largest amount of illegal mining. However, there was a shift with the BJP dominating the mining constituencies. Most of the present MLAs like Nilesh Cabral, Glen Ticlo, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, are from the mining constituencies. The extension on the ban on mining will seriously impact the BJP. Though the CM has been talking about setting up a mining corporation it is unlikely that the process will be completed before the Assembly elections.


AND a few stray thoughts on my considering filing criminal and civil defamation cases against the Goa Medical College & Hospital. The GMC has destroyed 32 years of my life. It was bad enough that the Rudolf gang allegedly had me beaten up with iron rods on the spine in 1989 (for forcing then Minister of Law Dayanand Narvekar to resign).
The then HOD of Medicine, Dr NGK Sharma made it much worse. Since I was getting very severe pain in the spine, Sharma kept piling me up with steroids. For the benefit of idiots like Dr Karande, who was a great steroid fan, long term use of steroids in large quantity can kill. Unfortunately, in my case it did not kill but left me more or less crippled for life. After about a hundred days on about 80 to 100 milligrams of steroids a day, the side effects of bloating and severe osteoporosis started setting in. It was the two former chief ministers Dr Proto Barbosa and Dr Wilfred D Souza who visited me to tell me to get out or “the GMC will kill you.” It was my industrialist friend Dattaraj Salgaocar and his brother-in-law who arranged for my transfer to Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai. In the meanwhile, Sharma, who did not want anyone to know about his stupid mistake, had withdrawn me from steroids abruptly, which sent me off into a steroid coma. I arrived unconscious on stretcher from the plane to the Jaslok Hospital.
In an even more wicked and immoral act Dr Sharma, to save his skin, issued me a discharge certificate. Which claimed I had polymyositis (muscle weakening) or alcohol-induced peripheral neuropathy. Doctors very often add the word alcoholic to ensure that there will no liability for insurance. In fact, the favourite speakers of doctors at their conferences, is a conman from Mumbai, who tells them how to avoid insurance claims of patients. However, due to that one mistake made by Dr NGK Sharma, I underwent extreme pain for five years as doctors were convinced that if steroids were withdrawn I would die. Till five years later a Dr Shrikanta in Bengaluru convinced me that if I continue taking steroids I would be dead in a month. I had little choice but to agree to a steroid detox he suggested at the Mallya Hospital. Next came the post-effects of detoxification during which time my weight went from 180 kg to 30 kg. My entire gastric system was destroyed and to this day I suffer the consequences of a GMC doctor’s mistake. Will any legal expert advise me about whether I can take the GMC to court?
AND a last stray thought on the India Today channel starting a Good News channel to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Good News channel only talks about the achievements of Modi. It will not carry any negative news against Modi. The only aim of the channel is to make people feel good. Which remind me of a former editor of Gomantak Times taking pride in the fact that he carries only good news. We do not know about India Today but the cardinal rule in media is only bad news is good news.

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