SUPPRESSED: Protests by Muslims against derogatory remarks of Prophet Muhammad by `Times Now’ anchor woman and her guest were taken seriously by the government and the home of Javed Ahmad (accused for leading the protests) was literally bulldozed!

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it was not the small regional papers but the most trusted paper in the country, the Times of India,’ which has been spreading hate. For a Saturday following the week when there is a three-way fight going on between current Town & Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane and former T & C ministers, Congress Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and Panaji MLA Babush Monserrate. For a Saturday following the week when the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) expressed concern about how passengers arriving at the Mopa Airport will travel to South Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the State government has been going about distributing land belonging to Goans to its cronies, the latest being the Bar Council of India Trust. For a Saturday following the week when the Hindu Dharma Sansad called for the liberation of temples from government control. For a Saturday following the week when the monsoon rain in Goa seem to have gone pisso with it pouring heavily in Taleigao, and no rain in Caranzalem. AND a few stray thoughts on the newspaper group which claims to be the most trustworthy now being the greatest spreader of hate in the country. The Times of India group has in the recent past changed its logo from “The truth will prevail” to “India’s most trusted news brand” with RK Laxman’s illustrated common man. The Times of India has obviously realized that truth does not prevail in its own papers. That only fake news and hate news flourishes in the publications of the Times of India Group. The latest controversy is over the remarks that Nupur Sharma made onTimes Now’ television news channel to their anchorwoman Navika Kumar. The editor-in-chief of any responsible television channel like Times Now’ would have switched off the mike when Nupur Sharma started making comments on the age of Prophet Muhammad’s wife. Instead, chief editor Navika Kumar kept encouraging Nupur in her obsession with increasing the Television Rating Points (TRP). In addition, it has been disclosed that a senior journalist Saba Naqvi made fun of Hindu fundamentalists looking high and low for shivling in masjids and especially in the Gyanvapi Mosque. It is only theTimes of India’ which has been carrying extensive coverage both on its TV channels and its print editions of the Modi government bulldozing the houses of those protesting against the remarks of Nupur against Prophet Mohammed.
There has been a demand that the Supreme Court should take suo moto notice of the bulldozing of the houses of those alleged to have participated in the protests and the stoning without any concrete evidence. The double-engine government of Modi has become a deadly bulldozer. If any of us in Goa protest against any of the policies of the Modi government, it is entirely possible that our houses will be bulldozed.
Ironically, the Times of India’ group sacked former veteran anchor and editor Faye D’souza ofMirror Now’ for being critical of the economic policies of the Modi government. All citizens of the country including residents of Goa should boycott the `Times of India’ and other so-called trusted media and godi publications, an expression used for publications which are biased and in favour of the Narendra Modi government. We hope the new chairperson of the Press Council of India, Ranjana Dessai, will take action against the Times of India Group.

AND a few stray thoughts on the three-way war going on between the present Town & Country Planning Minister Vishwajit Rane and his predecessors Michael Lobo and Babush Monserrate. Not surprisingly, the TCP is the most coveted portfolio in the Cabinet. This is because the TCP is a much bigger gold mine than the Mining department or the PWD. It is the TCP which frames policies which permit the conversion of agricultural and orchard lands into settlement zones.
It is also the TCP which appoints the chairperson of the Planning & Development Authority. The first regional plan for Goa was drawn up by former Chief Town Planner Edgar Ribeiro in 2001. The most deadly regional plan was created by Babush Monserrate who was rewarded with the TCP portfolio for coming to the rescue of Manohar Parrikar whose government had been reduced to a minority.
Babush literally invited builders from all over the country to his palatial residence and asked them to paint the maps as they wanted. The colors on the Regional Plan map determine the status of the area concerned. If a particular region is marked green, it is clearly agricultural land. If it is marked brown, it is clearly settlement. Babush’s 2011 regional plan sought to convert the whole of Goa into a concrete jungle. Besides permitting large-scale conversion of paddy and agricultural fields and even forest lands to commercial and settlement, the then TCP minister also increased the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). This indicates the height to which the construction can go.
All the 10-storey buildings on the Miramar-Dona Paula bypass are the creation of Babush Monserrate. Fortunately, the citizens of Goa revolted and the Goa Bachao Abhiyan, which was formed under the chairmanship of Edgar Ribeiro, called for the cancellation of the plan. Fortunately, Digambar Kamat who was then chief minister agreed to scrap the plan. Unfortunately, the alternate plan was objected to with the result that Goa does not have a regional plan.
The present dispute is the case by the new TCP Minister Vishwajit Rane that Michael Lobo who was chairperson of PDA North Goa, had permitted large-scale conversions in Arpora, Candolim and Calangute. Rane has alleged that Lobo himself was a personal beneficiary of many of these conversions which include two illegal hotels. The Calangute MLA has of course denied that he has illegally converted any agricultural or forest land in the areas indicated by Vishwajit.
Babush Monserrate has joined the fray demanding that his permission as revenue minister must be taken before the conversion of any land area beyond a thousand meters. After passing a law making it mandatory to get the approval of Revenue Minister Babush Monserrate, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant withdrew the order. The objective of all three men is clearly to further encourage construction activity in Goa.
After the scope for construction in Dona Paula was exhausted, the TCP and the PDA permitted the conversion of land on the Kadamba plateau. Including the massive cutting of hills and trees. It is not known when and how the CM will solve the ongoing battle between Lobo, Babush and Rane. Fortunately for Vishwajit, Lobo is in the opposition Congress party and so there is no conflict within the BJP. But Pramod Sawant who is waging his own war against Rane who aspires to be chief minister is reported to be supporting Michael Lobo.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa expressing concern over the effect on South Goa of the Mopa airport. When the Mopa airport is commissioned on September 1, it is inevitable that all the morning flights of the half-a-dozen airlines operating in and out of Goa, will shift to Mopa. This is because at present civilian flights are not permitted to land or take off from the Dabolim airport between 6 am and 12 noon. The Dabolim airport has always been considered a naval airport with the control tower in the hands of the navy. It is not widely known that Goa is the largest naval-aviation base in the country. It is also unfortunately for Goans, the biggest training location for new pilots. There have been a number of incidents of rookie pilots crashing their expensive MIG planes.
I have been witness to two MIG aircrafts crashing headlong into each other just above the Zuari fertilizer plant. If the aircrafts had crashed over the Zuari Indian Oil tanks on the hillock opposite BITS Pilani instead, the entire campus would have been wiped out. From the airlines’ point of view, they are delighted that they can operate in the morning hours. This not only enables them turn-around time to cover more destinations but prevents the bunching of flights in the evening.
Charter operators are also affected by the navy ban on the landing of flights in the morning hours. The problem is transport. The Mopa airport is much closer to the pristine beaches of south Maharashtra, like Tarkali and Vengurla, than the southern Goa beaches. Though, admittedly, the completion of the Mopa airport will give a boost to the hotel industry in North Goa which will probably witness new hotels coming up in the Morjim belt of Arambol, Ashvem and Mandrem which are much more popular beaches with foreigners rather than Calangute and Baga now.Even though some taxis have installed digital meters, they still charge up to Rs4,000 for a trip from Mopa to South Goa hotels like the Leela and Taj Exotica. It would be cheaper for guests who book in the South Goa hotels to use the CM’s newly introduced helicopter service.
In the meanwhile a number of hotels are coming up on the virgin beaches on the other side of the border which Maharashtra wants to promote as a chartered destination and will even encourage Goan shack owners to set up shacks on these beaches. It is claimed that Sharad Pawar has plans of building 7-starred hotels in collaboration with the Fomento Group on the other side of the border. Unlike in the case of the distance from Mopa airport to the South Goa hotels, the distance to Vengurla beach is less than half-an- hour.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Hindu Dharma Sansad which was held at the Ramnathi temple in Ponda, last week. Over a thousand representatives of the Hindutva brigade reportedly attended the Hindutva parliament. The Sansad echoed the demand of Sadhguru, the Coimbatore-based godman to free all temples from government control.
The majority of the big wealthy temples in the country ranging from Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh to Siddhi Vinayak in Dadar, Bombay to even the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, are controlled by politicians appointed by the government. This is also true of temples being constructed like the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya. In an interview with the Tamil channel of BBC, the Sadhguru virtually confirmed that his huge complex in Coimbatore was built in violation of all laws including CRZ laws.
Ironically, the Sadguru under the claim of protecting the soil recently undertook a motorbike trip from Bengaluru to London. Godmen are the biggest looters in the country because of their huge unquestioning followers amongst whom are politicians. The most enterprising of them is Baba Ramdev who has set up a multi-crore business empire after taking over Ruchi Soya which had virtually declared bankruptcy. The government enabled him to take over Ruchi Soya which manufactures a range of allegedly organic products with generous loans from the very banks he cheated.

AND a few stray thoughts on the extremely erratic monsoon which has presumably arrived in Goa. According to the Meterological department, the monsoons have arrived in Goa. The strange part is that the rain gods are very selective. While some parts of Goa like Sattari taluka have been getting heavy rains, others have not got a drop of rain. In the Tiswadi area which includes Panjim city, while there was heavy rain in Taleigao and Ribandar, we didn’t see much of it in Caranzalem or Dona Paula.
On the contrary sunny weather is ruling in some parts of Goa. Maybe as part of revenge tourism, which is forcing people who have been covid locked down for two years, the 5-star hotels in Goa are registering more than 80% occupancy even in the monsoon. Which is disturbingly accompanied by several deaths with young men slipping from slimy rocks into the sea at Aguada and other places.

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