Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finally citizens take River Princess into the boxing ring.

For years, they bore the brunt of an old dilapidated ship staring at them from the sea, destroying their ecology, their view and depriving them of their bite into tRiver princess in Goahe revenue of tourism . The River Princess has done enough damage to Candolim and its inhabitants for long, but the government of Goa seems to be least concerned. Tenders have floated and bureaucrats have been jostled and hustled. But the river princess is still stubbornly rooted off the Candolim-Sinquerim beach for the last eight years as if it was an environmental necessity.

A miserable eyesore, the River princess has ensured that tourism and business suffers in and around the area. Also the sea water is in constant danger of regular contamination and people have avoided frequenting the place unlike before.

An agitation to take the parasite out of the sea was therefore overdue. With people in Goa already in arms over draconian regional plans, mindless SEZ’s, degrading construction activites, mining erosions, megaprojects etc. the agitation over the removal of the river princess had strangely taken a long time.

It was therefore that Candolim came to a standstill on Wednesday morning, 17th December 2008, when around 6000 villagers of Candolim took to the streets in a peaceful demonstration, demanding immediate removal of the River Princess from the Dando beach. Under the banner of River Princess Hatao Manch(RPHM), they blocked all the vital points of the village paralyzing normal life and sending a warning to the government to act fast.

Urging the government to treat the issue as a state disaster, the convenor of the RPHM lamented that the assurances of the government officials to tow away the ship for the past eight years had proved futile. He also demanded transparency in the whole matter and sought a specific time frame from the government officials for the removal of the vessel.

Goans have now begun to correctly believe that without pushing the Goa government, nothing can be achieved in our land. The mere voting of our legislators to power, is sadly no guarantee that he/she will take up the case of our constituency. Our legislators spend a lot of money to get River Princess Candolim Beachelected and they seem to need the entire duration of their elected tenure to suck whatever they can out of the Goa exchequer. The election and subsequent suction seems to be their vicious circle of movement and they do not step outside that circle. The concerns of our constituency are their least concerns. Ordinarily they should resign on learning of the planned degradation of their constituency. Instead we find that they are the prime culprits of the degradation in quest of making a fast buck.

Going back to the River princess, the government of Goa has simply shown a lack of interest in the whole exercise as it seems it does not yield anybody any monetary benefits to remove the monster. Cosmetic and half-hearted efforts have ensured that the River princess remains there like a monument of shame. If the same had to be a multi crore project, the river princess would have surely seen itself out long ago.

The citizens should therefore agitate and push the government to brainstorm and devise ways of removing the vessel. It is the job of the government of Goa to come up with solutions. Eight years’ delay is already a massive crime committed by them. The government of Goa has lots of funds to spend on meaningless film festivals but seems to have no money to address serious genuine issues.

Hope the River Princess Hatao Manch takes its agitation to its justified conclusion.

Xittuk Goencar

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