PROTEST: All the BJP ministers with the exception of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant have opposed the decision of Centre Home Minister Amit Shah to permit Karnataka to divert the Mhadei river waters!

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant finally realized why the first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru called Goa “ajeeb.” For a Saturday following the week when Goa seems to have been taken over by entrepreneurs from other parts of the country. For a Saturday following the week when the State has decided that if it cannot offer the people food and petrol at reasonable prices it will give them festivals, zatra, tamasha, Lokamotsav and similar cultural tamasha endlessly. For a Saturday following the week when there should be a strict price control both on adult diapers and physiotherapy charges for seniors.
AND a few stray thoughts for a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant finally realized why the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru called the people of Goa “ajeeb.” Unlike in other states where chief ministers meekly obey the orders of Central Home Minister Amit Shah, surprisingly, Goa’s Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant doesn’t have the guts to outright condemn Amit Shah’s statement that the Mhadei river waters diversion issue had been decided in favor of Karnataka with Goa’s compliance. Even all the BJP ministers in the cabinet have strongly opposed the diversion of the Mhadei river waters to Karnataka – but the CM is playing it diplomatically.
The Mhadei river is the lifeline of Mandovi river and the small state of small, it’s headwaters provide more than 60% of the Mandovi river waters. If the Mhadei is diverted the flow of water into the Mandovi will begin to fall drastically. There will be no Dudhsagar waterfalls or any waterfalls to attract tourists. Amongst the industries which will be affected primarily will be tourism and river water sports will be badly hit.
Historically, the iron-ore industry has transported its iron ore on barges plying the main rivers of Goa. There may not be enough water levels in the Mandovi river for the barges to negotiate safely to the sea. We also anticipate that the floating casinos may become sitting ducks eventually, Deltin casino has already started work on a huge entertainment complex next to Mopa on the lines of the American gambling paradise Las Vegas. Las Vegas came up on the desert lands of the US and is totally dedicated to entertainment.
What shocks me is that there is not enough public response to the disastrous diversion by niz Goenkars. Unlike during the strong Opinion Poll campaign in 1967, when virtually every Goan stepped out on to the streets to prevent the merger of Goa with Maharashtra. If the merger had come through Goa would have existed but not as an independent state. But now with the diversion of the Mhadei river waters in Karnataka, it looks like Goa will be washed away. We hope the 16 lakh Kanadiga people enjoying the hospitality of life in Goa will realize on which side their bread is buttered.
The Catholic community which is at the forefront of all agitations is strangely silent. Neither Churchill Alemao nor Reginaldo Laurenco have opened their mouth on the diversion of Mhadei river waters. Conscientious vintage activists like Margao’s Datta Naik went all the way to Kashmir to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra but has not come forward to lead the Mhadei Bhachao Andolan. May be his son won’t permit him to do so even though there may be no CD developers or Monginis cakes if Goa is washed away into the Arabian sea in time to come.

AND a few stray thoughts on when Goa seems to have been taken over by entrepreneurs from other parts of the country. Two decade ago or even one decade ago, I did not see so much activity by people from outside starting various businesses in Goa. Now everywhere you go there are strawberry farms and fancy designer restaurants set up by Delhites and Mumbaikars and even Nagaland.
Last week there was a special Naga event at Merces with special emphasis of Naga food. I hope it did not include dog meat. Earlier, the Fontainhas Heritage area was laid back and sossegad. Now like in Cuba it has become a 24-hour activity hub for tourists taking in the sight of old-world buildings and gardens and church squares and posing for endless photographs and selfies by honeymooners. There are shops selling books to antiques to local food and fine tea shops and hostel dormataries for budget tourists.
In the middle of this there is this new concept of pop-up shops. Suddenly in a middle of a busy road somebody comes in a food van to park it itself anywhere to start selling food snacks or organic vegetables, fruit, groceries, farmyard manure, plants and much else. When the new Zuari bridge opened an enterprising outsider even parked his huge SUV on the bridge to sell liquor. The number of hairstylists and fashion designers have multiplied. Those who don’t get enough business offer to teach you how to do hair styling and designing.
It is not widely known that in the months of January and February dozens of foreigners claiming themselves to be yoga trainers and lifestyle coaches hold their 3-week to month long retreats for those who booked up for the courses online, mopping up Rs4-5 lakh in revenue. Several premises are rented out for such lifestyle workshops and retreats along the northern coastal beaches of Goa. The latest of course is waking tools. Earlier we never had to pay to walk.
Joining all this frenetic activity are the walking tours to take in heritage buildings or trees of capital city Panaji or Margao, these are labeled as heritage tours. They take you down memory lane with guides who may or may not much about the history of landmarks and places where history happened. The Campal precinct is heritage area as is Latin Quarters Fontainhas. Mind you, the brains behind these heritage tours around urban or rural Goa is an entrepreneurial young woman from Mumbai.

AND a few stray thoughts on when the government has decided that if it cannot give the people of more affordable petrol or even food at reasonable prices – give them tamasha like the latest lollipop of Lokotsav. Somewhat like the French queen Marie Antoinette who famously asked her husband, the king, why the people couldn’t eat cake if there was no bread in their home?
Similarly, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s government seems to be obsessed by the idea that non-stop entertainment is a substitute for basic infrastructure. We know to what a dismal state the Smart City projects have reduced Panaji into a dangerous city to venture out in the day time or evening time. Most of the time everyone is avoiding their usual routes to get to where they want to go or don’t want to go. Now we hear it will take another three to four months for the mega road works to be completed so that the people of smart city Panaji may return to their normal routes.
All this is because Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s government is obsessed by holding mega events in the future, when Goa will be hosting important events to do with boosting the economy. Goa is expected to host the G-8 summit on climate change in March 2023. The G-8, for the benefit of those who may not know about the summit, is for the top most powerful leaders in the world. This includes the US, Russia, UK, Italy, Germany, France, China and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is puffed up as India is hosting the G-8 for the first time.
The problem is G-8 is not about the size of the event or the number of people attending it. The threat is the huge demands it will make on security. Heads of State coming in will demand huge contingents of security and support staff and all the roads will be blocked anytime any of the visiting VVIPs move out from their starred hotels.

AND a last stray thought on when there should be strict price control both on diapers and physiotherapy charges for seniors. The financial burden particularly on senior citizens is grim. It is bad enough that diapers for children cost so much. The logic of the diapers industry seems to be that prices should be inflated with age.
Nowadays a lot of seniors need adult diapers to inspire confidence when they move out of the home, and to my disgust I have discovered adult diapers or the more popular adult slip on pants can be priced at Rs500 plus, plus each pack of ten pieces. Even the rebated online prices are exorbitant.
Seniors who suffer from a host of afflictions like Parkinsons, Alzheimers, various stages of dementia or other health problems in which their muscles are compromised need to use adult pants or diapers to make life easier to live. Sometimes senior patients are in diapers on a 24×7 basis. Since I suffer from a severe rectal prolapse I am one of those unfortunate patients forced to be in diaper pants. I am waiting for somebody like “Padman” to make economical diapers for distribution to seniors.
The other major requirement for seniors and sometimes even for young people who’ve been in accident tragedies are physiotherapists. Physiotherapists are on par with doctors and undergo four-year training course. They also have to pass the NET exam to get admission. Goa has very few seats for physiotherapy. Which is why perhaps physiotherapy charges are so extortionate.
The situation is made worse by the fact that the number of outsiders from Mumbai and Delhi have settled in Goa and they have no financial problems. Two decades ago I used to pay Rs300 for a physiotherapist to come home to help me, this was during my steroids phase when I was editor of the “OHeraldo” and suffered a severe beating up from goons. Now physiotherapists in Panaji charge a minimum of Rs1,000 per half hour physiotherapy at home. Many of the physiotherapists are from outside Goa but made the state their home. They even hire juniors or students as assistants and pay them a measly Rs10,000 a month when they make Rs3 lakh on one patient.
There should be strict regulation on the charges for physiotherapy. I request hospitality baron Rajesh Dempo to initiate free or much economical physiotherapy home service for seniors at his Dempo Health clinic (which offers home care I am told), in memory of his late father Vishwasrao Dempo.

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