ZUARI BRIDGE: The new Zuari bridge is designed to have a second tier which will accommodate malls, multiplexes, shopping centres and high towers as viewing galleries
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Babush Monserrate was evicted from Panaji to make way for Utpal Parrikar, the son of late Manohar Parrikar. For a Saturday following the week when the dalal of Gautam Adani, Nitin Gadkari, claimed that Goans are not co-operating in the blackening of the face of Goa with coal. For a Saturday following the week when Arvind Kejriwal went even further than the BJP in offering pilgrimages to Ayodhya and Shirdi to Goan Hindus, Valankanni to Christians, Ajmer Sharif to Muslims. For a Saturday following the week when United Kingdom’s PM Boris Johnson warned that the world is facing a James Bond moment to save the planet.
BABUSH TO JOIN NCP?
AND a few stray thoughts on MLA of Panaji Babush Monserrate being evicted from Panaji to make way to accommodate Utpal Parrikar, the elder son of late Manohar Parrikar. The son of late Manohar Parrikar has forced the BJP to give him the seat held by his father. The BJP now has no choice but to fulfil the wishes of Utpal Parrikar. This means that even if they want to the BJP cannot give Babush Monserrate the ticket for Panaji constituency which he now represents.
It may be recalled that earlier Amit Shah had told Babush Monserrate that the BJP did not believe in dynasties like the Sonia Gandhi family. They follow the principle of only one ticket for any family however important they may be. So much so Babush was in a situation in which wife Jennifer who represents Taleigao and his son Rohit, who was to get the ticket for St Cruz, will not be given BJP tickets. This despite the fact that the BJP survived after the death of Manohar Parrikar thanks to Babush Monserrate who persuaded the ten Congress MLAs to join the BJP.
NCP AGREES TO BABUSH DEMAND
BUT for a candidate like Babush if one door closes others open. All political parties are aware that Babush can deliver all the five seats in Tiswadi taluka including Panaji, Taleigao, Santa Cruz, St Andre and Cumberjua. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar has offered Babush seats for himself and Jennifer. They have also agreed to let Babush chose the candidates for Santa Cruz, St Andre and Cumberjua. When the Taleigao sarpanch Agnelo D’Cunha got the news that Jennifer won’t be getting a ticket, he announced that he will be contesting from Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz he will have to contest against the goon Rudolf Fernandes, who was allegedly responsible for beating me up with iron rods at the instance of Dayanand Narvekar in 1989 when I was editor of the `oHeraldo.’
Ironically, Dayanand Narvekar has been welcomed by Arvind Kejriwal into the Aam Adami Party (AAP). If Babush finalises his deal with the NCP he is likely to re-nominate Tony Fernandes in Santa Cruz and Francis Silveira in St Andre. Uday Madkaikar, the former mayor of Panaji, might be selected by Babush for the Cumberjua constituency.
Historically Cumberjua has been the monopoly of the Madkaikar family though it was represented by former power minister, Nirmala Sawant. With Babush joining the NCP he may also get the support of Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC as the political champ has an agreement with NCP.
So we may hope to see an alliance between all the Congresses as desired by Luizinho Faleiro. An alliance between the Indian National Congress of Sonia Gandhi, the Nationalist Congress of Sharad Pawar and the Trinamool Congress of Mamata-didi. In any case, Mamata will require the support of Sonia and Sharad if she wants to become the prime minister in 2024 elections.
NITIN SELLS GOA TO ADANI
AND a few stray thoughts on the dalal of Gautam Adani, Nitin Gadkari, claiming that Goans are not co-operating in the blackening of the face of Goa with coal. It is Nitin Gadkari who is behind the increase in the number of coal berths at the Mormugoa Port Trust; Gadkari is the Union minister-in- charge of ports. It is Nitin Gadkari who is responsible for the doubling of the South Western Railway tracks. It is Nitin Gadkari who is responsible for the expansion of National Highways and particularly those going to Karnataka to the Jindal and Adani factories in Hospet in Karnataka.
Nitin Gadkari is a great builder of highways and bridges. When he was PWD minister of Maharashtra he built the Mumbai Pune 8-lane expressway which cut short the travel time to Pune from eight hours to two hours. Of course, people have to a pay a heavy toll for the highway. To Gadkari’s credit he finished the expressway under cost and in advance of the scheduled time.
Gadkari wants to build the expressway between Goa and Mumbai. Unfortunately for him the Bombay High Court rejected his request, pointing out that he has not even completed the expansion of the highway from Goa to Sindhudurg. Nitin Gadkari promotes the interests not of aam adami but khaas aadmi industrialists.
In the case of Goa Nitin Gadkari has promised to make the state a world class destination. With this in view he has proposed to build a second level for the Zuari Bridge where there will be malls and restaurants. Gadkari claims that he has spent Rs2,000 crore on infrastructure projects in Goa in the last two years. Absurdly, Gadkari, who is at the same time destroying Goa’s green environment, claims to be a protector of the environment.
ELECTRIC BUSES FOR GOA
GADKARI is now proposing new public transportation system in Goa by having electric buses as public transportation which will use ethanol instead of petrol. This is a much cheaper option and countries like Brazil have adopted the substitution of petrol with ethanol, or a mix of ethanol or petrol. For those who may not know ethanol is the first stage of manufacturing sugar and is used widely in the liquor industry. India, in fact, has been exporting sugarcane to Brazil for it to make ethanol for its public transportation lines.
I was present at the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) Summit in 2006 when I had accompanied Dr Manmohn Singh to witness agreements signed between India and Brazil for export of sugarcane.
DON’T TRUST GADKARI
BUT Nitin Gadkari cannot be trusted. As Rahul Gandhi revealed he just wants to hand over Goa to the Adanis and Ambanis. It was Nitin Gadkari who introduced the idea of the Mopa International Airport which is expected to be inaugurated in 2023. Nitin Gadkari annouced Rs40 crore in 2021-2022 for new projects in Goa. He was responsible for funding all the bridges proposed by the late Manohar Parrikar, including the Atal Setu bridge. You can imagine the alleged kickbacks that Nitin Gadkari must have got from projects worth Rs2,000 crores. Now Nitin Gadkari wants to take over all the rivers of Goa not for transporting human beings but coal.
KEJRI OFFERS PILGRIMAGES
AND a few stray thoughts on Arvind Kejriwal going further than the BJP by offering four pilgrimages to Goans – Ayodhya to Hindus, Valankani for Christians, Ajmer dargah for Muslim and Shirdi for Sai Baba devotees. It is the latest freebie offer from Arvind Kejriwal, funding pilgrimages for Goans of all religious denomination. All pilgrims who register with AAP will be able to go on their pilgrimage of choice fully paid for vis-à-vis train travel and hotel accommodation. There is no package for people like me who do not believe in any gods.
Kejriwal has also promised an unemployment allowance of Rs3,000 to all those affected by the shutdown of mining. Earlier Kejriwal had promised free power to the poorer sections of the Goan population. The Kejriwal model is to rob the rich for the benefit of the poor. While the power tariff for the poorer section is free, the rich will pay higher tariff. Similarly, drinking water is free for the slum population of Goa.
What is disturbing is that Kejriwal is competing with the BJP for the Hindu vote. Kejriwal has visited Ayodhya and all the temples in the controversial pilgrimage place where the Babri Masjid was demolished by RSS and BJP fanatics on December 6, 1992.
No wonder Kejriwal is referred to as the B-team of the ruling BJP. Or maybe he wants to show that he is more of a Hindu than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The most shocking part of AAP in Goa is that they have welcomed former minister Dayanand Narvekar, who was involved in the cricket ticket scam. Narvekar was once the president of the Goa Cricket Association and he printed double the quantity of tickets and even VIP cards for the cricket 3rd ODI match between England and India in 2006.
So much so all the people who bought asli (real) tickets could not get into the stadium. There was a huge riot but Manohar Parrikar, who was in the stadium watching the match, did not do anything to allow those who had purchased asli tickets to enter the stadium. The case against Dayanand Narvekar is still pending in the Supreme Court of India.
DEADLY CLIMATE CHANGE
AND a few stray thoughts on UK PM Boris Johnson warning the world that it is facing a James Bond moment to save planet earth. Our planet is in a very precarious state. We have noticed the effect of climate change even in Goa where there were heavy rains in July, and thunder storms in November. Goa is now also affected by the various cyclones that start in the Bay of Bengal. The sea water is getting hotter and hotter.
Due to large scale demolition of sand dunes and sand mining there has been endless beach erosion. The situation is worst in Betalbatim where fabled Sunset Beach has disappeared and there is also Mandrem beach which is suffering. Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar is aware that 90% of the hotels on the beaches of Mandrem are illegal. But he claims that he has not demolished them because of the employment they have provided.
Recently, a five-star resort was ordered to be demolished at Mandrem beach by the High Court. It may be recalled that during recent weekend the sand dunes in front of the new Taj Vivanta at Miramar beach were destroyed, to provide smooth access to the beach to tourist staying in the Taj Vivanta. A wall has been built down the beach fronting Cidade de Goa, even though the majority of members of the Coastal Regulation Authority and Pollution Board and other residents in the vicinity have objected bitterly.
Climate change should be a global concern including us in Goa. Climate experts have warned that if there is a temperature increase of above 1.5% it will cause tremendous damage. The climate change is because of one billion tonnes of carbon emission. The main source of carbon emissions are motor vehicles and consumer durables like air-conditioners.
The irony is that the rich countries cause much more pollution than countries like India. In Indian villages women use wood for cooking because they cannot afford cooking gas which now costs almost Rs1,000. The pollution in Delhi which is worst affected is caused by the burning of the stubble left in fields after harvesting crops.
The highest number of asthma cases are in Delhi. India with a population of 1.25 crore contributes only 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. But as the late Indira Gandhi pointed out at the climate conference at Stockholm, “poverty is the biggest polluter.”
It is the rich countries like Europe, US, UK, Russia and China which are the biggest culprits in climate change. Can we imagine that cities in the US have witnessed heat waves with temperature going up to 45 degrees, in so called cold countries? What we can do to reduce climate change disasters is to switch to electric vehicles and use eco-friendly lifestyles.
But as it has been pointed out electric vehicles create the problem of disposal of lead batteries which are even more dangerous than petrol and diesel.
SC BANS PEGAGUS
AND a last stray thought on the Supreme Court striking down the use of Israeli spy software Pegasus, which can even infiltrate false charges against you on your own mobile. There has been a huge controversy over the misuse and abuse of the spy software Pegasus invented by an Israeli firm.
The spy software which is classified as weapons grade can steal all the data from your phone. It can intercept WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and all other internet communication social networks including voice calls. The worst part of Pegasus is that it can plant incriminating files on your own mobile without you knowing about it. For example, it can show me or you as a militant terrorist and implant false messages and doctored images, to prove so and so innocent victim as a criminal.
The Modi government has admitted in the SC that it is using the Pegasus software to spy on individuals and organisations. But it refused to reveal the information on who is being spied on. The SC made it clear that though the government could spy on those who are anti-national, it does not get a free pass to spy on critics of the government. Even media people who are hostile to the government are being targeted by the security agencies with Pegasus. The SC in another landmark judgement has also directed that those granted bail should be released immediately.
This comes against the backdrop of Aryan Khan and his friends being released from jail only three days after the Bombay High Court granted them bail.