VISHWAJIT BLOCKS APPOINTMENT OF TIWARI!

OVERRULED: Health Minister Vishwajit Rane overruled even Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s order appointing Dr JP Tiwari as the new dean of the GMC.

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it appeared that Goa has a super chief minister. For a Saturday following the week when the Transport department started implementing the amended Water Vehicles Act. For a Saturday following the week when after a gap of two years the Goa Board of Higher Secondary School exam was held in physical mode. For a Saturday following the week when there were rumors that former chief minister of Goa and former Opposition leader Digambar Kamat may join the BJP and become the power minister again. For a Saturday following the week when the price of petrol and diesel leaped higher almost every day through the month of March. For a Saturday following the week when the police were accused of ignoring noise pollution complaints.

SUPER CM
AND a few stray thought when it looks like Goa has a super chief minister. The government of Goa had appointed nephrologist Dr JP Tiwari as the new dean of the Goa Medical College & Hospital. Dr Tiwari is the senior most amongst heads of department at the GMC. The incumbent Dean Dr SM Bandekar is third in the list of seniority of heads of department. Next to Tiwari the senior most HOD is Dr Wisemen Pinto of the Pathology department. The Goa Public Service Commission had in August 2021 recommended that Tiwari being the senior most doctor was eligible to be the new dean of the GMC. The Departmental Promotion Committee of the government also recommended him for the dean’s post. The Personnel department which has been retained by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant issued the order appointing Dr JP Tiwari as a dean of the GMC.
But Dr JP Tiwari’s happiness after a long fight for justice was very short-lived. I remember calling Dr Tiwari and congratulating him on getting his due recognition at last. Dr JP Tiwari is the only qualified nephrologist in Goa. In fact, without qualified residents to help him he had undertaken several kidney transplants at the GMC.
A nephrologist is a doctor who has specialized in treating kidney problems. Kidneys are the waste management system of the body. If one or both kidneys fail the patient concerned has to undergo dialysis daily or alternate days or as advised. Goa has a sizeable number of kidney failure cases. For some still unexplained reason the majority of kidney failure cases come from Canacona taluka down south Goa. Though some private hospitals offer dialysis, only the GMC is authorized to conduct kidney transplants.
Dr Tiwari has been collaborating with Dr Madhumohan Prabhudesai (honorary head of the Urinary department at the GMC). Kidney transplants entail the removal of a close match kidney from a healthy person to fit into the patient with kidney failure. I recall the father of a neighbor of mine way back in the late 70s who donated one of his kidneys to his daughter as both her kidneys had failed.
Most of us can function with one kidney. There are rules for kidney transplants which have to be observed including kidneys acquired from a patient’s relatives or good Samaritans willing to donate a kidney even in commercial kidney transplants. Kidney transactions scams there are in plenty and we remember one reported Hiranandani hospital in Powai in Mumbai where trading of kidneys is a big business in the grey zones of organ harvesting illegally.
This is second time that Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has blocked the appointment of Dr JP Tiwari as the officially appointed dean of the GMC. No sooner the announcement came that Tiwari was new dean Vishwajit objected immediately. Super Chief Minister Vishwajit Rane bullied Chief Minister Pramod Sawant who has now put the appointment of Dr JP Tiwari on hold.
Rane junior has no right to interfere because the job of appointments and transfers is that of the Personnel department under Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. But apparently although Pramod Sawant won the battle for the chief minister’s post, he is a toothless tiger and has to bow to the demands of all his senior ministers.
Rane on his part wants Dr SM Bandekar to continue as the dean. Bandekar is also the superintendent of the GMC. Now under pressure from Vishwajit the Personnel department has issued a one-line order keeping on hold the appointment of Dr JP Tiwari as dean.

DEVASTATING FINES!
AND a few stray thoughts on the Transport department started implementing the amended Motor Vehicles Act (MVA). The Central government had amended the Motor Vehicles Act. The Supreme Court has also directed that all states should implement the provisions of the MVA. The amendment is now related to a very sharp hike in fines for traffic offenses. The provocation for increasing the fines is the growing number of fatalities in road accidents. Statistics of the Transport department both at State and Center reveal that the largest number of fatalities in road accidents are of two-wheeler riders who do not wear a helmet. Other common offenses are talking on the mobile while on two-wheeler or in four-wheeler. There is also a stiff file for two-wheeler owners accommodating their several children on their two-wheelers, carrying two and three children at a time for a school drop off or pick up.
In the case of car owners the most common and serious crime is rash and negligent driving leading to fatal accidents. It may be recalled that the film actor Salman Khan allegedly rode his SUV over a footpath in front of bakery in Mumbai killing several people sleeping on the footpath. There have been instances in Goa where policeman have died because of rash and negligence driving. There is also a severe penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Goa has been reluctant to implement the amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act. The enforcement of the act was repeatedly postponed by the Goa government. In the run up to the election the government was worried that if the fines were imposed the voters may not vote for the BJP. Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho himself is not in favor of hiking fines for traffic offenses.
For instance, Mauvin Godinho in his meeting with the Traffic Police and RTO has directed them not to take action against parents who are dropping or picking up their children from schools. Mauvin has also asked the enforcing agencies to give two-wheeler owners a month’s grace time to acquire a pollution free certificate for their bikes. Even Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had directed the police not to act against tourists driving under the influence of alcohol at the peak of the festive season. While deterrent punishment is definitely needed, what will happen is that the traffic constable or RTO inspector will ask for a heavier bribe — to let you go. Just to give you an idea of the steep hike in fines the penalty for not wearing a helmet has been increased from Rs100 to Rs1,500.

NO END TO NOISE POLLUTION
AND a few stray thoughts on the Calangute Police Station not taking seriously complaints about the noise pollution. Not only restaurants like Hill Top, Hammerz and many others, even shacks on the beaches have started playing very loud amplified trance music. This disturbs local residents and more than 500 complaints have been registered at the police station. The loud blasting music affects the life of the residents in the locality for the noise levels blast their ears. Especially at night time when they seek some peaceful sleep.
Unfortunately, the local panchayat is allegedly steeped in corruption although the number of offenses are many. The panchayat claims that the number of offenses are less than 50 and that is peanuts!
The panchayat in a statement has dismissed the complaints of residents to jealousy and fights with the owners of the shacks. The police are reluctant to enforce the rules. The Sound Pollution Act of Madhya Pradesh which has been adopted by Goa and it bans the playing of loud music to disturb public peace after 10pm.
There are only about half-a-dozen days in the year like Christmas, New Year, Ganesh Chathurti and a few more when permission is taken to enable the playing of loud music up to midnight. But in the case of the night clubs and now even the shacks in Goa it is true that this noise pollution in the case of trance music may go on the whole night till the wee hours of dawn. May be the High Court of Bombay should intervene. The sufferers of noise pollution have already filed a contempt petition against the government for not acting on complaints of amplified music after 10pm.

 EDUCATION PHYSICAL                                 MODE  

AND a few stray thoughts on how after a gap of two years the Goa Board of Higher Secondary School exam was held in physical mode. Which simply means that now schools and colleges are back to normal after two years of indifferent online education. There is no question that the suspension of physical classes has led to a loss of two years of education. The bitter ground reality is that there are very few schools in Goa which have proper internet connectivity to enable e-learning to be fruitful. A survey by a Central agency has disclosed that less than 15% of government schools in the State have internet connections. It is particularly bad in rural areas where students equipped with smart phones struggle to understand what teachers was saying in digital mode.
Under the system that was followed before return to normalcy, teachers were required to go to school where they were asked to lecture to empty classrooms – this was picked and zoomed to students on their smartphones. Parents in turn have been very reluctant to give their children smart phones to use indiscriminately. Many fear that with a smartphone in hand their kids may start browsing pornographic sites or worst still get addicted to games like PubG and more. So it looks like the only people who benefited from the shift from physical classes to online classes were the manufacturers of smartphones.

POWER PORTFOLIA
AND a few stray thought on the speculation going on about who will get the power portfolio in the new Cabinet. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has not allotted the power portfolio to any of the eight ministers who have been sworn in so far. There are many contenders for this portfolio including Sudhin Dhavalikar, the alliance partner, for the heavyweight Power department.
Imagination is running riot with the OHeraldo even claiming that it could be Digambar Kamat who may be appointed power minister. Which is absurd because Digambar Kamat is not even a member of the ruling party. In fact, Digambar is the biggest loser of the recently held assembly election. Digambar failed to ensure the victory of the Congress party which was very sure of winning this time around. The Congress which had got 17 seats in the 2017 election could only get 11 seats in the recently concluded election. The Congress High Command, under the instigation of former GPCC President Luizinho Falerio, has succeeded in getting both t Girish Chodankar and Digambar Kamat to step down from their respective posts. Girish Chodankar was the president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee while Digambar Kamat was the leader of the Congress legislative party.
The Congress High Command has accepted the resignation of Girish Chodankar owning responsibility for the poor performance of the Congress party. In the case of Digambar Kamat, after all the defections the Congress party was left with only two MLAs. One of the reasons for the speculation that Digambar would be given the power portfolio is that he was the most popular power minister.
I have personally experienced the hands on functioning of Digambar Kamat as power minister. Whenever I have called Digambar Kamat even while he was chief minister he took the call and took action to hasten the restoration of power supply. Unlike Nilesh Cabral who was power minister in the last cabinet. In contrast, Digambar was very accessible to any aam aadmi.
Not only me but any Goan or migrant could call up the chief minister directly if they had any problems with power supply. Unfortunately, the powerless Digambar Kamat cannot become the power minister this time around.

FUEL BLUES
AND a last stray thought on the continuous ad hoc daily increase in the cost of petrol and diesel lately. Since the beginning of the month the power tariff has been increased at least ten times. The increase may have been limited to 80 paise daily but it all adds up to almost 10 to 20% increase in the price of petrol. The strange part of the increase is that the Center has been getting cheap crude at a concessional rate from Russia. So the cost of petrol and domestic cooking gas for the government has fallen sharply.
Historically, the government has decided that the rate charged at petrol and diesel stations will depend on the international price of crude. Currently the government is collecting on the advantage of cheaper crude but is not passing it on to the consumer. The only person who understood the problems of Goans forced to invest in two-wheelers in the absence of good public transport was the late chief minister, Manohar Parrikar. In his last budget he reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol to zero. This brought down the price to Rs60 liter petrol.
Unfortunately, Manohar Parrikar’s successor, Laxmikant Parsekar, restored the taxes on petrol.

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