Sat, 06 Jun, 2020

Sustainable Goa should be the way forward

Presently, there’s no scientific or rational approach to the economic, cultural, political or socio-religious growths and development of Goa in its entirety

09th October 2019, 02:41 Hrs

Dr Joe D’Souza

It is extremely unfortunate that we in Goa have not looked at developmental models holistically and sustainably. Our approach to development has been hopelessly skewed, often directed towards the creation of the “vested interest” lobby which is very much against the growth and development of Goa and Goans. 

We need to work as “one people” for the greater benefit of “Goenkar and Goenkarponn”. There is absolutely no scientific and rational approach to the economic, cultural, political or socio-religious growths and development of Goa in its entirety.

Look at Goa of today. We have the ramponkar movement, which believes, that all the beaches in Goa along with the 105-km coastline is the ground for traditional fishing on which livelihoods depend. Those who are today dependent on the operations of the gambling industry assert that if the “off-shore casinos” policy is altered they would lose their livelihoods. Everywhere we go across Goa, we have created a mini

or major vote banks of stakeholders pulling Goa down with their vision of economic development.

We have in the last 50 years since Goa’s liberation in 1961 allowed the voices of these “powerful few” trump over the marginalized silent majority as the media, by and large, is under the control of these “few powerful vested interests.”

Look at the ground realities of today. We have a handful of shack owners who have been allocated prime beach spaces to put up structures, beach beds and umbrellas. They have also installed audiovisual and other electronic and electrical appliances.

The sad reality as it exists today is that the beach belt where the shacks operate is stinking and festering with litter strewn all along the silvery Goan coast.

True, we have the so-called “regulatory mechanisms” in place. We have the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority as well as the Goa State Pollution Control Board. Do they work as per law?

The truth is that the GSPCB grants permission and consents to operate (subject to at least 25 conditions, rules and guidelines), but never ever takes the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating if the said conditions are ever implemented. I can confidentially assert this.

Every inspection of the GSPCB is initiated only after the complainant is persistent with his submission of violations. In Goa, the entire governance system is in a disaster due to severe political interferences. The CCZMA which is duty-bound to keep in check coastline violations in the State merrily grants permissions for commercial activities without Goa Coastal Zone Management Plans legally in place. 

No doubt all along the coastline the heavily worked up courts in Goa have to not only order demolitions of illegal structures but also monitor that its orders are strictly observed and implemented to its finality.

We must realize as a society that it is the people at large who must take care of their environment and do not leave the onus on the politicians, press and the petty bureaucratic administration. By ignoring our responsibilities, we as people have allowed the river Mandovi to be polluted beyond immediate restoring capacity. 

It was a foreign visitor to Goa who just a few days ago reported in a video the garbage being burnt in a forested land in Canacona, wherein he noticed articles, bills and discards from the five-starred Lalit hotel in Canacona.

Are we, as people and residents of Goa, aware that the entire five and seven-star hotels in Goa contract their hotel wastes to contractors, mostly migrants, who carelessly dump these on secluded plateaus, forested lands, estuaries, marshes and low-lying areas? 

Why do I go very far into the villages? Let us examine the situation by staying within the precincts of the Corporation of the City of Panaji.

Our St Inez creek and the backwaters of Rua de Ourem are being used as a dumping ground for municipal solid wastes. Do we realize that the entire low-lying area of the Patto Plaza was a marshy estuarine backwater region of the river Mandovi? Today we have the CCP boldly asserting that Panjim has a solid waste treatment facility behind “Heera Petrol Pump”. 

This illegal and irregular garbage treatment facility created by the CCP was done in full view of the general public as the central Panaji bus stand is next to this disastrous GTP proposed by the CCP. I, in my lifetime, have seen the entire reclamation facilities by filling up of the marine environment with wastes. Thousands of trucks laden with municipal wastes have gone into the reclamations of low-lying areas around Panaji. 

With our tourism industry already on the hit list,  it is time for us to wake up to realities of the hospitality industry. The people of Panaji are perennially in a festive spirit, but I feel they are in a hallucination stage oblivious to the fact there is utter degradation of the environment around their city, which is ridden by garbage woes, parking challenges, prostitution and drug abuse. Panjimites avoid protest marches and demonstrations to support environmental causes.

It is time to involve ourselves more actively to plug the ills affecting our society. It’s also time for people to involve and depend more on the primary sector and focus on the richness of solar energy. We need to make our agriculture and agro-based industries vibrant and concentrate on knowledge-based employment generation. Also, we need to harness the goodness of artificial intelligence and non-polluting electronic and digital innovations to make Panaji and Goa at large the  the salubrious destination for Goans of the 


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