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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

How connected has Parrikar been to Goa

In Goa, it has become extremely difficult for the common man to have a quality life as politicians have exploited the good nature and trusting attitude of the people

Story: DR. | JOE | 28th September 2018, 03:32 Hrs

I am discussing the connection of Manohar Parrikar to the people of Panjim, Goa and the Goan environment only because he has remained as a popular and all-powerful elected people’s representative for a considerable period of time over the last two decades.  

When I first met Parrikar, in 1994, I was teaching Microbiology at PG level at Goa University and also deeply involved in carrying out active research directly connected to Goa’s ecology and environment along with my students.  

Parrikar was then keen to see Goa grow into a green and sustainably healthy state and as an opposition MLA representing Panaji, did encourage me to ensure that tourism did not destroy the ground waters across Goa due to sewage percolations into water bodies.  

Until the year 2000, Parrikar sometimes accompanied me on field trips and he was supportive of the people of Calangute, including one Anthony D’Souza and then Sarpanch Delilah Lobo (wife of Calangute MLA Michael Lobo) and together we established that the ground waters in Calangute were contaminated with enteric bacteria due to haphazard growth of tourism. 

We also established and published reports that ground waters in Panjim were getting polluted alarmingly. 

As an opposition leader, Parrikar showed concern to the Mandovi  ecosystem and along with many Panjimites, threatened to force his entry  on board casinos and drive out the gamblers on board with the help of  his BJP bhakts and the people of Panjim, between 2010 and 2012.  

He was clear as crystal that casinos were not the part of Indian culture and he would not want to hurt the social fabric of our society but also endeavour to keep the River Mandovi clear and serene for Goans to enjoy its crystal clean water.  

Our research on River Mandovi in the 1970s showed the river bubbling  with diverse biodiversity and there were no fish diseases. 

Slowly in  late 1999, fish diseases and organic pollution started to show up. By  2005 and upto this day, Mandovi is slowly dying and the sewage bacteria  is threatening pestilence and disease on the residence of Panjim in  particular. 

The year 2012, could in hindsight, be considered as the darkest year in the history of Goa.  

Parrikar came to power. Slowly decay and destruction of the State set in. Licenses were being given to structures on hill slopes, and by razing down forested areas as seen at the Kadamba plateau and elsewhere across Goa.  

It was not the nature-friendly, anti-casino, Parrikar, who cared for the farmers problems, it was not the Parrikar who was agitated when the tourism related hotels polluted ground waters. How can Goans forget Parrikar’s famous statement defending his decision to issue casino licenses declaring that River Mandovi waters are pure and that he can even drink the water in front of the people?  

Casinos kept on cruising into River Mandovi and instead of one decker casinos, four decker giant casinos made their way adding to the agony of Ponjekars. 

Not only is the Mandovi polluted but entire Panjim city is facing a grave health hazard due to open defecation, urination, litter of garbage by visitors on casinos, cruise boats, etc.   

When the whole of Vasco city was reeling under coal pollution as the coal dust was slowly killing the common man, coal imports through M.P.T harbour were making its way. “Those who do not want coal imports must be prepared to move in bullock carts,” Parrikar had thundered.  

I have over the last two years, written umpteen numbers of times suggesting that nature rewards society and punishes the people that challenge it. 

Sadly, especially in the last one year, the health of the people of Goa has been compromised. We Goans have failed Mother Nature. As people we have not stood up firmly as one, unitedly against the slaughter on our ecosystem. It is someone’s sin of commission, it is our sin of omission.  

Whilst I write this article in anguish, I see a clear mishandling of holistic development of the state which is rich in solar energy and bio fuels in the form of methane. I am in no way suggesting that Goa has a credible alternate amongst the opposition.  

In Goa, it has become extremely difficult for the common man to have a normal descent into quality life as politicians across diverse hues and colours have exploited the good nature and trusting attitude of the Goans. 

Sadly, having worked on various aspects of the Goan environment for nearly 50 years with research publications in scientific journals, I have failed miserably to fuel alarm amongst Goan masses that this beautiful state with astounding genetic biodiversity has been badly treated by our elected representatives, especially in the last 15 years.  

Today, air pollution in Panjim has reached threatening levels, leading to respiratory infections. Goa gets over 100 inches of rain and it is impossible to get minimum water, even for an hour daily. 

My humble plea to our men in power is to listen to the call of nature and the kind voices of the Goan masses and let not nature punish us. 

Keep casinos out, do away with coal imports, and clean up our garbage so that we can live in peace and in harmony with nature.   

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