TARIFF: The power bills for domestic consumers keep going up even as the price of coal and natural gas which are the main inputs have risen steeply.
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the prices of domestic power keeps going up. For a Saturday following the week when the government seems to be more concerned about tourists than residents of Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the rape case against Babush Monserrate came up for hearing and a date has been fixed for his statement. For a Saturday following the week when the power theft case against Mauvin Godinho is alive and has reached the charge-sheet stage. For a Saturday following the week when Jaydev Mody has been permitted to set up an integrated entertainment park which will include a casino, a mall, a hotel and other facilities spread across 40 acres.
AND a few stray thoughts on prices of domestic power going up. Ironically, while power charges are going up every month, the number of power shutdowns are also increasing. So much so we are paying more for less power. Our power bill increased from Rs1,435 in April and Rs4,397 in May. The power bill of a colleague who spent the whole of May outside Goa has come to a whopping of Rs3,500. Power Minister Nilesh Cabral keeps talking about solar power. The minister talks about underground cabling of electric wires throughout Goa to prevent interruptions of power. Most transmission wires, particularly those in villages, are overhead. The worst affected are the villages in the tourist belt.
If a large number of rapes occur in the tourism belt it is because after 7pm there are no roads lit up adequately for minimum safety and there is lighting down roads leading to the beaches, except perhaps one high mast light near a tourist resort few and far between. There is no transport as the last KTC bus stops in many destinations at 7 pm. Unlike other tourist destinations like London, where not only did the buses ply all night but there is also all-night duty-free shopping. Most of our underground transmission wires in Goa are over 40 to 50 years. Even in some places like Panaji and Margao where underground transmission lines have been layered, the frequent digging by the PWD, the Telecom departments, etc, results in disruption and fluctuation of power. Part of the problem is that Goa does not have a captive power generation station. It is dependent on the national grid for the supply of power.
When there are brief cuts in power supply it is because the power grid is switching from north to south. Many countries, particularly in the Gulf, have successfully implemented the desalination of sea water. Unfortunately, candles will give you light, but no air. Perhaps every house has to install an inverter or a generator to ensure continuous power. To be fair the tariff is decided not by the State government but by the National Tariff Commission in respect of power that is supplied through the national grid.
TOURISTS MORE IMPORTANT!
AND a few stray thoughts on the government being more concerned about tourists than local Goans. Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte has just announced that an international cruise terminal will soon be ready at Mormugoa harbor. Cruise tourists from abroad will not only see all the pollution at the terminal but also be covered in black. This cruise terminal will have to adjust itself with the coal and iron ore terminal nearby.
In an effort to attract international tourism the government is also promoting heritage tourism. Old Goan houses, mistakenly called Portuguese houses, will be taken on lease from the owner for the benefit of “high-net-worth tourism.” In the last two years the government has spent several crore rupees on promoting millet festivals, mango festivals, jackfruit festivals, all kinds of other festivals. Earlier local temple jatra were limited to devotees of the faith.
Now the government has stepped in and is promoting all temple jatra ranging from the Fatorpa and Shantadurga jatra to the Mangeshi jatra down south Goa. Simultaneously, smart individual MLAs have taken over church festivals and turned them into mega entertainment affairs with live music dancing, etc. No afford is being spared to promote both domestic and international tourism. But nobody is bothered about the niz goenkar and his misery over potholes, dug up roads, suicidal drainage gutters, even in capital city Panaji. But our Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte is smart and has added a bypass to overcrowded Porvorim over which presumably tourists may zoom across happily, ignoring the mess below for the locals to deal with.
AND a few stray thoughts about the alleged rape case against Atanasio Babush Monserrate which came up for hearing and the date has been fixed for his statement. Babush has submitted his statement through his lawyer as he got permanent exemption from personal appearance. It may recalled that Babush was accused of raping a 16-year-old minor girl who was allegedly sold to him by her aunt. The claim is that Babush is obsessed with virgin girls. Indeed, the Digambar Kamat government arrested Babush and he spent almost two months in jail before getting bail from the Supreme Court. Now that the BJP is in power he has been able to keep delaying the case. It is entirely possible that both the victim and the aunt have been paid off and withdrawn their complaints.
MOST media people in Goa no longer report on the ongoing power theft case against Mauvin Gudhino. Way back in the 90s when Pratapsingh Raoji Rane was the chief minister, it was decided to cancel the power rebate for steel rolling mills. Steel rolling mills use iron scrap to make steel items like bars and slabs. Despite the government cabinet decision Mauvin extended huge amounts of rebate to Mormugoa Steel which is the company owned by one of Mittals. Mauvin would have escaped but for the fact that it is Pratapsingh Raoji Rane who is the main witness to this scam. Moreover, it was a cabinet decision and is on record. The case continues as Mauvin’s lawyers keep getting postponements. Much like the Babush case.
JAIDEV MODY FOR ENTERTAINMENT
AND a few last stray thought on Jaidev Mody being permitted to set up an integrated entertainment park including a casino, a mall and a hotel, and other luxury tourism facilities spread over 40 acres near the Manohar International Airport. The Pollution Control Board has approved the mega project. It is not known whether online gambling will be permitted in the mega casino planned as part of the entertainment complex. Mody is stressing the entertainment part and comparing it to Essel World promoted by Zee TV.
Jaidev Modi is reported to be very close to a senior BJP leader. It was he who broke the monopoly of hotelier Sundar Advani who opened the first land casino — the Caravela — for almost a decade. Then Jaydev Mody managed to get license for four casinos. Modi maintained his monopoly till Gopal Kanda of Haryana set up the Big Daddy casino. Deltin, the parent company of Jaydev Mody, also has casinos in Daman. Perhaps the objective of Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s government is to turn Goa into another Macao or Hong Kong or Singapore.