Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Panaji back to dusty ways after visit of HC judges



If Panaji's residents and people who visit the city routinely were skeptical that the sudden rush of the contractors and the Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited (IPSCDL) to execute safety and anti-dust pollution measures over the last weekend was only for the purpose of coming out clean from Monday's inspection by the High Court judges, Tuesday proved them right.

Except for the area near the St Inez, Taj Vivanta junction where the Smart City work contractors have excavated fresh sections of the city roads, there were no measures taken to alleviate the dust pollution like sprinkling water in other areas of the capital on Tuesday.

IPSCDL CEO and managing director, Sanjit Rodrigues, who has over the last two months taken a hands-on role in supervising the work was not reachable the whole of Tuesday.

A day earlier, however, Rodrigues who was at the beck and call of Justices Mahesh Sonak and Valmiki Menezes while they were on their inspection rounds in several parts of the city, had told the media that the IPSCDL has placed records of its working related to the measures needed to be taken during the ongoing 'smart city' work before the court.

A couple of days prior to the scheduled inspection by the Bombay High Court judges, most of the areas where work is being executed got their due in terms of anti-dust pollution measures and other interventions to ease the inconvenience to traffic and commuter movement.

Water was being sprinkled on the roads, a time-tested technique to prevent dust dispersion into the air, besides other measures were also being taken. Not so on Tuesday, a day after the inspection by the High Court judges, when these measures were seen implemented only around the St Inez junction near the Taj Vivanta hotel.

Incidentally, even the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) got into the act of taking action only after the Bombay High Court judges fixed Monday for personal inspection and placed ambient air quality monitoring vans at some of the sites which it never did for over two years since IPSCDL and contractors began the 'smart city' work. 

Justices Sonak and Menezes, who incidentally have lived and worked in the capital city for decades before each of them were elevated to the High Court bench, comprise the division bench which took up two public interest litigations related to nuisance and public health hazards caused by dust pollution on account of the Smart City work. 

In the course of their hearing the two PILs, the bench on being unhappy with responses from the authorities, had last week fixed the inspection and followed it up by themselves moving around the city to conduct it post court hours.

The court is expected to take a further view on the matter during the course of the current week, an outcome those who filed the PILs and several others affected by the work will eagerly wait for.

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