For all the propaganda surrounding the ongoing National Games, a brief shower on Tuesday exposed the hollowness of the official claims of "state-of-the-art sports infrastructure" built in the State.
The brief spell of rain, that too forecast well in advance by the weathermen, left several areas of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium waterlogged for the duration of the downpour around sundown. The stadium is one of the main venues for the National Games where badminton, fencing and some other disciplines were hosted and was leaking at several locations. It forced Sports Minister Govind Gaude to rush to the spot and inspect the entire stadium. All Gaude could offer in terms of an explanation was: "We are prepared for rain and we are continuously working on it." Indeed!
The less spoken of the Athletic stadium at Bambolim the better. In less than half an hour of the steady rainfall, the entire ground was water-logged, exposing the fact that not enough thought in its design has gone into drainage facilities, that too in a State that routinely clocks 100-plus inches of rain.
Track and field facilities need specialised sports ground drainage which effectively removes water from playing surfaces and surrounding pedestrian zones. Clearly, no thought was given at the time of designing the stadium, or in the last few years, maintenance of these systems was neglected.
Will anyone be held accountable?
Bikers to be charged for ferry rides
The decision of the Social Welfare Minister, Subhash Phaldesai to do away with free ferry rides for two-wheeler riders on several inland waterway routes and begin charging them a fee has raised several eyebrows.
Phaldesai said in a fortnight uniform fees will be charged - Rs 5 for two-wheelers and Rs 40 for four-wheelers -- across Goa with a facility of monthly passes at the rate of Rs 150 for two-wheelers and Rs 600 for four-wheelers available through a mobile application.
The logic of the decision has come to be criticised by many although Phaldesai claims the generation of revenue is meant to fund future upgrades of the ferry services. For starters, he claims roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ferries with thrice the load capacity of current ferries will be pressed into service on many routes within six months. Then why not wait for six months, when these faster and more efficient Ro-Ro ferries are actually pressed into service to begin charging the fees?
Arambol hotel sans licence exposes jungle raj
The boom along the coastline in the once rural and backward Pernem taluka spurred by tourism, legal or illegal, is fine. But a whole multi-storeyed structure operating as a hotel without possessing any of the statutory construction or other licences, that too with impunity, takes the cake.
Worse, in the vicinity of this illegal structure, which the Bombay High Court at Goa has ordered sealed until it is demolished by its owner itself, several other such illegal structures have come to light in the proceedings before the High Court. One of these belongs to the father of the Arambol Sarpanch and another to his uncle.
The Sarpanch has been asked to seal these premises pronto by the High Court and present within a week a report listing all such constructions in the Girkawada-Arambol area. Had it not been for the High Court stretching itself beyond the case before it, this 'jungle raj' where the law and the enforcement authorities, right from elected representatives to the bureaucracy comprising the executive magistrates and sub-divisional magistrates are being taken for granted, would never have come to light.
Beats us how a four-storied hotel allegedly constructed illegally in a No Development Zone(NDZ) in Arambol can go unnoticed by the entire government machinery.
Nilkanth Halarnkar gets a wake-up call
Within the government, Fisheries Minister and Tivim MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar maintains a low profile. We can hardly see the minister speak about his portfolio, leave alone issues concerning the State. But then he is a man of a few words, not out of choice though. He may be out of the media glare but definitely not out of the prying eyes of his rivals in the constituency.
Recently, his staunch critics picked up on him for doing little or rather nothing in the constituency. First, it was former MLA Kiran Kandolkar who lambasted the minister for failing to get any worthy projects in the constituency despite being in the government. The ex-MLA went hammer and tongs against Halarnkar for failing to get any projects in Tivim and only focusing on self-development. He also called him the most “incapable” minister.
Kandolkar must be having an agenda to target the Tivim MLA but we must agree that he wasn’t off the mark concerning the development aspect. RGP President Manoj Parab also joined the bandwagon hitting out at the Tivim MLA for creating a vote bank in the constituency.
In a direct charge, the RG supremo alleged that Halarnkar was protecting the scrapyard owners who were running illegal businesses in Colvale and warned the villagers that their MLA was digging their graves due to pollution spewing from these scrapyards.
We understand Halarnkar will not respond to these allegations. But then these are serious charges. We hope the minister wakes up and smells the coffee.