Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Goan Christmas beckons Goa

Its the all too familiar sight in Goa at this time of the year. The streets packed to capacity. Traffic snarls all over the city. The town painted red with with the memorabilia of Christmas. Santa Claus waving from the glimmer of paint from glass fronted shops, Christmas carols renting the air and absolutely no place to park your two wheeler, while your four wheeler has no ambitions to make to the city for a long time to come.

From music shops to food outlets, to cloth shops to gift shops and groceries to Goa Christmasdesigners, from stationers to hair stylists and beauticians  to cold storages and sweet marts, there is a buzz of big time business in Goa for all merchants at this time of the year. With barely 2 days for the Christmas cheer to ring in, there is therefore the last minute scramble to fill up the missing ingredients to ensure that this years Christmas is not compromised for anything.

The prices of eggs normally soar in Goa at this time with a commanding premium. Eggs are major ingredients in many of the Christmas sweets and the Goan Bebinca which is a class favourite among Goans calls for a lot of the egg. Broken eggs or damaged shell eggs do not remain on the shelf and are quickly whipped off by Bebinca makers. These eggs are cheaper compared to normal eggs.

The prices of all essential commodities also become steep as demand rises for various food items. Cashew nuts which is also another major ingredient for many Goan Christmas sweets such as cakes and marzipan, is also in great demand. Demand for Christmas decor always satisfies the passion of most Goans and you will find the streets filled wmarzipan - Goa christmas sweetsith Christmas decor of all types most of which is imported from China and has a lot of takers here. The Goan  Christmas "star" has innovated over the years and the various styles are on display. However nothing can obviously beat the home-made bamboo star which many Goans fondly fabricate till date and the same brings nostalgia to the Goan Christmas.

Goans are also passionate about their clothing and the women always prefer to ring in Christmas while flaunting the crispness of a new dress. Tailors and designers have their hands full all over Goa and you can forget about ordering for a new dress a good 15 days before Christmas and are likely to be turned down. The town is also packed with a host of mens suit shops and from ready-mades to made to order, there is one for everyone.

The cribs at home are being given their finishing touches and the Christmas tree is moving out from the gloom of its storage in the attic to the comfort of the living room with buntings all over. Kids are now expecting good ole Santa to provide them with the gifts that they have been awaiting the whole year .

The curtains are being ironed, and there is a coat of paint given to the peeling walls. The Christmas dance is on the mind and the midnight mass would be the best way to ring in the Christmas cheer for all Goans.

Goa is therefore getting ready for the Christmas flavour, heralding the birth of Christ our saviour and King.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goa's Christian sects upset with Panjim mayors comments

The pleas of various Christian sects seeking space for burial grounds in the city of Panjim which was rejected by the Corporation of the city of Panjim (CCP) last Friday, with its mayor Carolina Po telling the media that the feeling among the corporators was that the people who have converted to other sects should ask those people who led them to convert, to provide burial grounds, came in for scathing criticism from leaders of various Christian sects across Goa.

Some Christian sects such as the Syrian and Methodist Christian sects had reportedly applied  for burial grounds from the CCP which was rejected by the Panjim corporators under the fear that these sects have their numbers scattered all over Goa and granting them a burial ground would therefore result in all their dead being brought from all over Goa, to Panjim to be buried. This was in pursuance of the CCP's resolve under a resolution passed by the CCP last year banning burial of persons not living in the jurisdiction of Panjim city. The cemeteries in the city of Panjim are being run by the Municipal body.

Goa burial ground

However various leaders of different Christian sects from Goa took strong exception to the Mayors comments and termed it undemocratic and a violation of human rights. At a meeting held by the various Christian sects in Margao, the members and pastors of such sects lamented the lack of democracy in the comments and urged people in public positions not to make such strong statements which could lead to a flare-up.

The pastors belonging to New life fellowship church of Panjim, Margao and Vasco, Parakletos Church, Margao, Corner stone church Margao, Mount Zion Church, Good News Church, River of Life Church Panjim, Good Hope Church and Methodist Church were present at the meeting.

A pastor of a River of Life Church Panjim criticised the comments of the mayor saying that there is no question of anybody converting them and that they have chosen to be members of a certain sect out of their own free will and asked the government to look after the interest of all citizens irrespective of their religious backgrounds.

Another pastor pointed out that it is the constitutional right of every citizen to be buried after death and said that burial cannot be denied on any grounds leave alone the religious ground

Monday, September 14, 2009

Goa's football lover, Noel Lima Leitao passes away

Well known football commentator from Goa, Noel Lima Leitao passed away after reportedly suffering a massive heart attack in his hotel bathroom in Kolkata. He was 51 . Noel was in Kolkata to commentate on the 114th IFA shield matches and had last commentated on the final match at the salt lake stadium in Kolkata. His death has left a large void in the Goan football scenario in the state and has left his friends and Goans at large in a deep sense of anguish.

Noel Lima Leitao from Goa As per reports appearing in various newspapers, Noel was believed to have suffered a massive heart attack and was found dead in his hotel bathroom on Sunday afternoon after the hotel staff failed to elicit his response either through phone calls or knocks on his door, thereby breaking open the door to find him dead.

A director on the board of Vasco SC, Noel was known to be a jovial figure amongst the football fraternity in Goa and was a known voice on football commentary over various sports television channels.The entire football community in Goa was left numb with his death and visitors poured in at his Vasco residence to offer their condolences. People from all walks of life including politicians, friends, family members and the football community were spotted at the residence of the football loving former treasurer of the Goa football association.

Noel is survived by his wife Nayan tara , four daughters and a Son. Goa has suddenly lost one of its most lovable ambassadors of the game but can take heart form the fact that Noel passed away in the midst of his passion of commentating for the game he loved the most and is so close to the heart of Goans, which is football.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Senior Citizens of Goa to benefit from state policy soon

Come the next couple of days and the state of Goa could have its policy for the senior citizens in place, something  which was formed under the Maintenance and Welfare of parents and senior citizens act 2007, after it is duly notified and published in the official gazette. The policy is likely to come into force from October 1 2009, to coincide with the International day for Senior citizens.

Senior citizens masquerade at Goa Carnival

It may be recalled that the state government of Goa has announce this policy for senior citizens welfare last year on 1st of October and it is exactly after one year the government has decided to implement the same. the file pertaining to the policy has reportedly been cleared by the finance and the law departments and has been reverted to the social welfare department.

Under the policy, parents are eligible to claim maintenance allowance from their children and the policy also envisages the setting up of maintenance tribunals and appellate tribunals. Pressure has been mounting on the government over the delay in implementing the policy with various NGOs urging for its early enforcement. It is reported that senior citizens in the state face a lot of hardships from their children especially in matters related to property in Goa . Under the policy, the elderly shall be empowered to claim the property back from their children if the same is given on the basis of looking after their needs and amenities.

There is also a demand to set up and maintain homes for senior citizens in Goa to take care of them in their old age and provide the necessary medical care and recreation facilities. There are suggestions also made to the government of Goa to apprise and inform the police and the judiciary on protection of life and property of the elderly under the provisions of the act.

Goa will thus join states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Tripura in enforcing such a policy aimed at the protection of the interests of the senior citizens of the state.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Goa does a first. Approves a sports policy for itself

In a bid to encourage sports activities in the state of Goa, the state cabinet gave its nod for a special policy for sports for the state which is probably the first such policy endorsed by any state in the Indian union. The policy which will give a boost to sports and other physical activities in the state, is expected to be implemented soon, after due notification.

The policy which was first prepared as a draft plan in the year 1998, took more than a decade for the current "Goa sports policy" to become a reality.sports in GoaAccording to the policy, physical education and sports is expected to be an optional academic subject beginning from the next academic year.

The policy aims to ensure that studies would not be a bottleneck for sporting successes and students would no longer be hesitant to take part in state or national duty as their absence from the class would be duly considered as "on duty" and therefore backed up by arrangements for conduct of special and supplementary examinations for those students.

A new "sports merit marks" will be awarded to sportspersons of Goa who have excelled at the state, national and the international level,which would be a maximum 3 % aggregate. Also 3 percent seats at all educational institutions in the state, excluding professional colleges are being considered for exclusive reservation for such sportspersons.

Reservations for jobs is also an integral part of the policy and 3% jobs are expected to be reserved at government, semi-government, autonomous and corporate bodies which enjoy government funding. The sports policy is expected to burden the exchequer to the tune of 110 crores every year.goa sports

The government of Goa aims to create an awareness and a sports culture from the primary and pre-primary school level and broadening the scope of physical education and sports activities through schools, village panchayats, sports clubs etc for the development of a healthy and competitive personality and achieving excellence at all levels of academic interests

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goa CRZ violations : Coastal Panchayats to file affidavits

The division bench of the Bombay high court at Goa, while hearing a suo moto petition  with regard to the illegal construction in the CRZ areas of Goa, has asked the coastal village panchayats to file affidavits by providing the details of the type of constructions, the survey numbers and what use these structures are being put to.

During the hearing of the petition, amicus curiae Norma Alvares brought it to the notice of the High Court that most of the panchayats in Goa may have issued demolition orders to illegal structures violating CRZ, but none have actually carried out any demolitions. She also pointed out that some of the panchayats are still at the stage of issuing show cause notices.

Goa CRZ demolitions

The court has sought the affidavits to be filed by October 5th 2009, stating therein the total number of structures in the 200 metres zone as per the survey maps. The court has also asked to state the number of structures found to be existing as on February 19 1991. The matter is expected to come up for hearing on October 13 2009. The bench also asked the state advocate general Adv Subodh kantak to give information about the number of appeals pending before the panchayat director regarding the illegal structures violating the CRZ.

Some of the village panchayats informed that they have filed their affidavits while others said that while the affidavits were ready, they were not yet filed. Ms Alvares submitted a chart which specified the details of the affidavits filed by the panchayats in various villages of Goa.

As per the details, Calangute and Canacona were on top of the charts aggregating 684 structures in Calangute and over 616 structures in Canacona. However, strangely, Calangute panchayat has issued notices only to around 90 such structures while Canacona has issued notices to only around 48 structures.

Comparatively, Anjuna panchayat has issued notices to over 227 structures out of a total of 427 such constructions in the No development Zone (NDZ). Mandrem Panchayat in the north and Agonda in the south of Goa have issued notices to 61 and 30 structures respectively.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Goa : Bollywood's beach-eyed baby

For Bollywood, Goa has been a favourite destination to camp for shooting since the sixties when Bollywood producers and directors seem to have woken up to a landslide beauty next door to Mumbai. The trend therefore began in the sixties with the legendary Manoj Kumar  shooting "Ghum Naam"  and since then there has been little looking back for the bollywood film industry which has found Goa to be the ideal foil to most of their plots

Goans will not forget the presence of their Goan beaches in the unforgettable romantic tragedy titfilms shot in Goaled " Ek Duuje Ke Liye" which starred Kamal Hassan and Rati Agnihotri in the lead pair, with the beach of Dona Paula as their favourite haunt and the stories of that beach being woven around the storyline of that movie. Of course, in recent times there have been blockbusters such as "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Josh" to name a few.

Over the times, it has not only been Bollywood, but also the south Indian film industry which has caught the fascination for Goa and other vernacular film industries have taken good notice of the Goan touch and beauty to ensure that their shooting schedule has Goa as their favbollywood in Goaourite stopover. Besides, Hollywood has also shown keen interest in the state of Goa for shooting their movies. Therefore Goa now sees itself as a hotspot fro all film shootings, serials, documentaries , video clips for advertisements, calendar shoots, portfolio shoots, Photography clinics etc.

Earlier, Goa had no special body to grant licences for film shoots. However after Goa began hosting the "international film festival of India" since 2004, the ESG or the Entertainment Society of Goa took birth and it is now the body to grant the permission for any shooting to be done in Goa.

How to undertake film shooting in Goa

To carry out film shooting in Goa, Line producers who are the initiators of the shoot should contact the ESG and give details of their schedule with dates and the locations of the film shooting in Goa. Thereafter, depending in the type of location chosen, the ESG contacts the departments concerned surrounding that particular location. For instance, if the location is a beach, the tourism department is contacted. The concerned department gets back to the ESG and upon the compilation of all the necessary permissions and grants, the ESG prepares one main slip which okays the shooting. The entire procedure takes a period of about 10 days.

The ESG also states its clauses and conditions of the shooting in Goa and these are mentioned in the permission slip given to the line producers. The major conditions being that there should be no hindrance to the flow of traffic or human activity at the places of shooting, no shooting to be undertaken inside an archaeological structure, no nudity and no garbage to be left behind. Generally most beaches in the Vasco-da-Gama area of Goa are banned due to the naval presence in the area. The ESG is expected to enforce these conditions strictly and any contraventions by the shooting team are to be penalised.

Film shootings in Goa are therefore more organised now than before and the government of Goa works together with the ESG in a co-ordinated pattern ensuring that the filmmakers find the experience of obtaining permissions and shooting in Goa to be a very pleasant one. Goa naturally has an interest in film shootings as it only helps to showcase Goa to the rest of the world as a tourist destination thereby increasing its market potential and as a result adding to the revenues of the state.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Strike call over HSRPs. Govt moots ESMA

The government of Goa is seriously considering invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in the backdrop of the threat by the Goa public transport federation of a strike in the state of Goa on August 31. The all Goa public transport federation, is an umbrella organisation of 23 public transport organisations.The transport operators under the umbrella include bus owners, taxi operators, rickshaws and two wheeler pilots.

The transporters are demanding that the governmenStrike in Goat stop the implementation of the High Security Number Plates (HSNP) and also to reduce the rates of the pollution certificate. 

Interestingly the strike has also been supported by the youth congress which is the main partner in the ruling coalition government in the state of Goa. The transporters have also indicated their plans of an indefinite strike if the government fails to pay heed to their demands.

Goa's bird sanctuary at Chorao may get CWH grade

The Salim Ali's bird sanctuary at Chorao and the surrounding mangroves in the area are expected to get a protective cover if conferred with the status of a "Critical Wildlife Habitat"(CWH) area. However the bestowment of that status could finally rest with the villagers of Chorao and may need their approval before such a status is granted.

The CWH status is granted to those areas which are required for wildlife conservation  purposes. The state level expert committee has therefore called for a public hearing on September 15 2009, to elicit views of the Chorao villagers on the CWH proposal.image

The Goa forest department is keeping its fingers crossed for the outcome of the above meeting and opine that since the area is already a notified sanctuary and no persons living in that area, the area being under the forest department of Goa, such a status bodes good for the bird sanctuary.

The villagers of Chorao may however have theirs own reservations about the particular status and may therefore seek to know in clear terms the terms and rules governing a "critical wildlife habitat". The forest department officials however feel that the meeting will be a smooth affair with no need for any anxiety to the villagers.

The Salim Ali bird sanctuary is spanned across an area of 1.8 sq km and is abounded with mangroves which provide a safe haven and a breeding space to many species of fish, insects and other wildlife.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Goa Public Transport Fed ups ante.Announces strike on HSRPs

In the building resentment against the enforcement of the high security registration plates for all vehicles in Goa, the All Goa public transport federation became the latest body to announce its agitational stance against the implementation of the High security registration plates in Goa and threatened to go on a one day token strike if the government of Goa fails to stop the process of its implementation.

The federation constitutes al transport operators in Goa including bus owners, taxi operators, rickshaw and two wheelers Goa transportand pilots who are all set to observe the strike on Monday Aug 31 2009.

Interestingly, the strike call given by the transporters body has the backing of the state unit of the youth congress which had earlier protested the state governments move at Margao when they almost laid siege to the RTOs office last week.

It may be recalled that Goa had advocated the use of high security registration plates making the same mandatory to all vehicles as per the directives of the supreme court under the central motor vehicles act and a Mumbai base company  Shimnit Utsch had bagged the contract amidst opposition by the BJP.

The state of Goa has over 6.5 lakh vehicles registered with the road transport organisation (RTO). The representatives of the various transport organisations lamented that their memorandum made to the chief Minister Mr Digambar Kamat on August 10 with a deadline of seven days haHSRPs in Goad no response and with the deadline expiry on August 18, they had no choice but to  hold the strike which was held in abeyance due to the ganesh chaturthi celebrations in Goa.

The organisation alleged that the representatives in the assembly have not dwelled well enough on the scheme of HSRP and pointed out that the number plates are of no use in Goa as the state has no infrastructure to ensure that the features in the number plate are complimented by proper implementation like tracking of vehicles and other security related aspects as also the absence of a data bank in Goa.

The leader of the opposition Mr Manohar Parrikar had also alleged that there appeared to be a scam in the implementation of the HSRP scheme while saying that Goans were unnecessarily paying double the price compared top the west Bengal government where the number plates were charged at Rs 282 and 441 while people in Goa have to spe4nd Rs 550 and Rs 1250 for such plates.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Illegal mining in Goa : Panel blames select trio

The committee on mines in Goa has put the onus of illegal mining in Goa on three departments of the state which the committee said are passing the buck when it came to illegal mining in the state of Goa. The three departments are the Directorate of mines, Forest department and the Goa state Pollution control board. The first report of the committee says that if these three departments had to initiate action against the offenders, then the state of Goa would not have faced this problem of illegal mines and pollution.

Goa illegal mining

The committee observed that while the Directorate of mines followed central government rules in the enforcement, it did not take the responsibility to ensure that mining activity is not done without environmental clearance and other required permissions. The committee observed that it was the duty of the departments to close down or cancel the licences of the mines whose mining rejects and mining wastes pose a threat and damage to paddy fields, fruit bearing crops and drinking water resources and other water bodies within the vicinity of the mines

While the deemed clause was being misused by numerous mining companies, and which was being known to the concerned departments, none of them stopped this practice. The committee has now suggested to the government of Goa to pass strictures amending the state and central legislation affecting mining in the state. The committee has urged the government to stop all mining operations in the state which are carried out with or without valid lease concessions.

Now CCTVs to ogle at you in Goa, at Margao and Tivim

CCTVs have finally made their way into strategic locations in Goa and the first hosts have been the railway stations in Goa at Margao and Thivim which will come under the eye of CCTVs beginning Monday August 24, 2009. Both the facilities currently installed with closed circuit televisions would become operational on Monday after the inauguration at the hands of Konkan railway corporation managing director Mr Anurag Mishra.

Margao railway station

With terror threats looming over Goa since the end of last year after the Mumbai terror attacks, the CCTV project was contemplated for Goa's railway stations of Margao and Thivim and are being installed at an estimated cost of Rs 40 lakh. While Margao was the lone stimageation initially mooted for the project after the Mumbai carnage, the Konkan railway corporation however sanctioned the project for the two railway stations to contain the terror threat in a more wholesome manner.

Besides helping the cause of warding off terror threats in the state, the CCTVs are expected to help the law enforcement agencies in the state  in tracking down criminals in Goa who commit crimes and flee out of the state via the Margao railway station.

It has been earlier experienced by the police that the trail of most criminal offences in Margao and in the state have led sniffer dogs to the Margao railway station in cases mostly related to thefts and burglaries. The CCTVs are expected to help keep a close tab on such elements who use the Margao railway station as their mode of fleeing Goa after committing the crimes.

Goa govt appoints panel to check grievances of parents

With parents of children in private unaided schools of Goa deciding to take recourse to legal action to enforce the rules applicable to such schools as per the Goa School education act 1984, the Goa government appears to have woken up to the reality facing it and has now belatedly appointed a committee to introspect the grievances of parents on the issue of fee hikes in private recognised unaided schools in the state of Goa.

goa unaided schools The panel is expected to hear the members of the private unaided school managements, the unaided school parents association of aggrieved parents, other people in the education field and subsequently submit its report to the government within a period of one month

The members of the panel are former education director Suman Pednekar who heads the committee, Surendra Sirsat ( retired principal of Kushe Higher secondary school Mapusa, C K Mathew ( retired Principal  Holy trinity HSSS Benaulim ) D P Pednekar ( retired principal of Naik Higher secondary school Curchorem) and Avinash Nasnodkar ( AEO - legal, Education Department)

Among other things the committee is expected to deliberate on matters such as : the scope of references of the committee with whether in terms of section 13 of the Goa school education act 1984, the hike of fees by private unaided schools is necessary to implement sixth pay commission scales to their staff thereby bringing them on par with the employees of the corresponding status in schools run by the government.

The other aspect to be analysed by the panel is whether the exorbitant hike of fees by the unaided schools is justified with respect to providing better infrastructure facilities and quality education for better development of the child as claimed by such schools

Transparency in accounts of unaided schools is another bone of contention expressed by the aggrieved parents and this issue is bound to invite suggestions from the panel to resolve it with more transparency in audited accounts.

The panel may also explore the possibility of making further provisions with regard to the fee structure  in unaided schools in Goa, in the Goa school education act and rules and make recommendations accordingly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Goa panchayats get together to spit fire on amendment

The controversy ridden amendment bill to the Panchayat raj act added another dimension with a new forum formed to battle against the draconian bill when the panchayats from Goa announced the formation of the All Goa panchayat Democratic Forum(AGPDF) which warned the government of a full blown agitation in the state if the bill wasn't reverted in a time frame of three weeks.

The forum which met in Panjim , exhorted Goans and the people from South Goa to attend a big public rally in Salcete, to oppose the damaging bill in full force. The date for the rally is expected to be fixed somewhere after the Ganesh festival.

Speaking at he meeting, the President of the forum, Mr Joseph Sequeira said that if the government failed to take cognizance of its demand, then there will be a full fledged agitation which the government Goa fights amendment of Goa will find difficult to resist. Mr Sequeira also lambasted the various MLAs for making baseless statements against the Sarpanchas, as a means to push in the amendment bill

Other speakers who spoke on the occasion were Soter Dsouza who called for unity among the panchayats and compared the government to the British who tried to play the game of divide and rule.Thalmann Pereira revealed how a select committee and ad-hoc committee reports differed on the rights of the panchayats and urged the panchayats to pass resolutions opposing the amendment. Former convenor of Goa Bachao Abhiyan(GBA) , Mr Oscar rebello recollected the victories of the Goan people in fighting issues such as the Regional Plan 2011, SEZs etc and said that it is time the gram sabhas of Goa took this issue also to be defeated through an unified action.

Prajal Sakhardande, the well known historian reminded the people about the day August 20 2009 as being the birthday of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi whose vision of panchayati raj in Goa was being strangulated by this amendment. Also speaking on the occasion were convenor of GBA Sabina Martins, Cansaulim Sarpanch Basil Fernandes, Rachol Sarpanch Joseph vaz and others.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I-day sees new day at South Goa with a CFC

Independence day saw e-governance in Goa taking another step as the Chief Minister Mr Digambar Kamat inaugurated the Citizen Facilitation centre at Margao on 15th August 2009 while reiterating his governments policy to serve the needs of the aam aadmi in Goa as the CFC was launched at the south Goa collectorate.The center is expected to help the citizens immensely in undertaking their work without difficulties and delays.The system has been devised and implemented by the National informatics centre.

The CFC which was contemplated around a decade ago has finally taken shape in 2009 and ensures online registration and also includes a touch basDigambar kamated screen kiosk to access information thus squeezing in a new era of governance wherein the common man of Goa would be relieved from queues and delays to access information about his/her applications and files.

The Citizens facilitation center is believed to be a virtually paperless office and the information regarding the applications and the files would henceforth be available at the facilitation centre where citizens are expected to encounter friendlier staff. Hereafter people would be spared from coming up and down the collectorate building seeking details about their files and applications and with a reference number, would be able to access details which would usher in more transparency and provide a track as to where the files are held up.

The aim of the government is to start the process of e-governance at the taluka level by December end and also install the information kiosks at different parts of the district so that people seeking information need not actually go to the collectorate. A transparent e-governance throughout the state of Goa was said to be the endeavour of the government.

The Chief secretary Mr Sanjay Srivastava also informed that feedback about the centre would be sought from the public and for one month such feedback would be analysed regarding the functioning of the new system

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Its "patolleo" time in Goa - Goan Cuisine

Its the 15th of August 2009. Independence day. However for Goans, the independence day of our country is looked forward to for yet another steaming reason. It is simply time for the Goan delicacy at this time of the year when most Goan homes especially the catholic homes of Goa are busy preparing the hot favourite of Goans in the monsoons. The "Goan Patolleo". Patolleo or Patoleo are known to command a nostalgic feeling among Goans for centuries and are a very aromatic and simple preparation of a delicacy that Goans faithfully root for, year after year.Goan patolleo

So how do Goans prepare patolleos? Firstly, the Goan sweet patolleos are intrinsically connected to the use of turmeric leaves in which they are baked or steamed leaving a distinct aromatic flavour which is in itself a big draw to the taste buds. Other variations of the Patolleos are the "Kholle"  or "Dhonne" which are cone shaped patolleos made with jackfruit leaves instead of turmeric leaves and have a similar following when it comes to its distinct taste. In some places of Goa such as Santo Estevam in the North, there is a tradition of preparing patolleos in the shape of tortoises which seems to be a faithful tradition living to this day.

The turmeric leaves are available in plenty inside Goa and the vegetable markets are full of such leaves at this time of the year. Turmeric has always been used in Goa as is all over India for its medicinal properties and the oil in the leaf is considered to be excellent for purifying the blood and as such the Patolleos which are baked in these leaves help the oil to be sucked into the sweet dish thereby adding to the health value of the patolleo. The mild tantalising aroma of the leaves is of course very very nostalgic and delightfully pleasant.

The Goan patolleo is probably an unique preparation of such sweets probably identified with Goa along with a host of other dishes which decorate the Goan cuisine books.To prepare patolleos, the procedure is pretty simple and involves the use of the following ingredients

Turmeric leaves ( Cucuma Longa)
Goan rice
Jaggery ( Palm jaggery - black colour)
Cardamom Powder

The Method of preparing patolleos: Soak the rice in water preferably overnight. Grind the rice with a little water and some salt to form into a paste.

Separately grate Goan coconuts finely and add palm jaggery ( black jagery)to this grated mix with some cardamom powder and mix thoroughly.( some also add chana dal along with the jaggery for added flavour to the stuffing)

Take fresh turmeric leaves and trim the edges with a scissor, wash the leaves and apply the rice paste thinly and evenly to cover the inside of the turmeric leaf. Then stuff the leaf with the jaggery paste in the centre and fold the leaf from one side to another while pressing the edges firmly.

Now place the patolleos in a vessel ( normally a "Kompfro") suitable for steaming the patolleos. Steam the patolleos for around 20 minutes untill the colour of the turmeric leaves begin to change colour from the fresh green to a dull green.

patolleos of Goa

Serve hot without removing the leaves . The aroma, the taste and the flavour have kept Goans asking for more and more over the years.

Happy feasting!

By Goacom

Goa Sarpanchas wake up to Panchayati Raj nightmare

The Goan dissent to the panchayati raj amendment bill is continuously rising with new vigilant groups emerging from the Goan fraternity and the most affected of these are obviously the sarpanchas who have realised albeit a bit late that their authority is bound to be completely undermined if the proposed bill is enacted into a law. The South Goa Sarpanchas Forum (SGSF) was thus another new body formed to oppose the bill tooth and nail.

goa fights back At a well attended meeting held at Margao, the SGSF called upon panchayats from all villages in south Goa to call for the gram sabhas to deliberate on the recently passed Goa panchayat amendment bill 2009 and subsequently resolved to submit a memorandum to the governor Mr Shivinder Singh Sidhu urging him to deny his assent to the draconian bill.

The meeting which as attended to by over 70 elected representatives resolved to oppose the "usurpal of powers" of the peoples elected representatives of the Goan village panchayats which they strongly condemned and termed it as contrary to letter and spirit of the "73rd amendment of the constitution"

Last week, the Goa assembly amidst a walkout staged by the opposition, had passed the above bill which would confer executive powers on the panchayat secretaries . The sarpanchas deputy sarpanchas and the panchas have termed this action unwarranted and anti-people. The meeting also condemned the Panchayat minister Mr Manohar Azgaonkar as well as other MLAs supporting the bill

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Goans bracing for big battle against "panchayat hijack"

The brewing anger stemming amongst Goans against the draconian panchayat raj amendment bill 2009, which seeks to snatch away the powers of the panchayat body and vest them in the bureaucracy, is slowly gathering momentum and various individuals, organisations and village bodies are slowly mustering collective support in a bid to converge in a mass agitation movement to compel the government to do a rethink on the ridiculous amendment to the law. If the citizens galvanize in full force against the amendment, Goa could witness a repeat of the agitation which forced the government to scrap the regional plan 2011 in 2007.

Goans protesting panchayat act amendment

Among the various forums which have been scathingly vocal about the unjust amendment which seeks to do away with the voice of the village bodies, the newly baptised "panchayat democratic forum" has vowed to launch an agitation to protest the amendment untill it is withdrawn.

The "panchayat democratic forum", a body which comprises of sarpanchas, panch members and activists from all over Goa has conducted its first meeting on Tuesday, August 11 2009 and has first decided to approach the office of the governor to impress upon him not to give his assent to the draconian amendment. All the speakers at the meeting unleashed a vitriolic attack on the government which they said would nullify the powers if the panchayats of Goa.

the director for the Centre of panchayati raj Mr Soter D'Souza pointed out  that the amendment is an effort to usurp the powers of the panchayat and termed the move as unconstitutional. He also blamed the opposition to be part of the plot to facilitate the amendment during the recent assembly session. Mr D'souza said that the government does not want to follow the model Panchayati raj act because it is not interested in devolving powers to the panchayat.

Advocate Thalmann Pereira lambasted the government saying that benevolent dictatorship is not acceptable and sought the democracy to be in the hands of the people who should decide about their representatives depending upon their performance.

The various speakers lamented that the panchayats and over 189 sarpanchas have been ignored and not taken into confidence regarding the bill and that the powers of the panchayat were being taken away and given to the panchayat secretaries which would encourage manipulation by vested interests.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Swine flu gets Goa worried : Leave rules relaxed in schools

Swine flu deaths in the neighborhood of Goa at Pune, has left the establishment in Goa worried and anxious about the dangerous dimensions of the fast spreading H1N1 virus in the country. So far, the city of Pune in Maharashtra was the worst hit by the disease with four deaths confirmed while another six more persons were reported to be currently battling for their lives after being afflicted with the deadly virus. So far the country has seen over seven people claimed by the dreaded disease of swine flu mainly from Pune, Mumbai and one death from Chennai.

Swine flu virus Goa, in the meanwhile is grappling with patients regularly showing up with the virus which so far has not proved fatal in the state. In the latest round of people suspected to be infected with swine flu, four people have been currently identified and their throat swabs have been sent to the national Institute of communicable diseases New Delhi on the 9th August 2009 (Monday). While two of these persons had arrived from Pune and Mumbai, the third is a woman from Brazil while the fourth is a man who had come in contact with a swine flu patient.

With the virus threatening to spread and new cases being detected everyday, the Goa government has however ruled out the closure of schools and colleges unlike some swine flu affected areas of the country. The administration has however stated that teachers, staff members and students showing symptoms of swine flu will be allowed to stay home for a period of upto ten days and waived the need to produce a medical certificate for the specified period.

The state authorities are also finding it to be a herculean task to screen every person entering Goa for Swine flu and the health authorities  are instead encouraging people who suspect that they may have contracted the virus , to get themselves screened voluntarily.

It is found that out of the 40 suspected cases of swine flu in Goa, around thirteen were detected through screening by the sSwine flu precautions in Goawine flu squad at Dabolim airport but the remaining 27 persons had approached the government hospitals or a private doctor on their own volition thereby being referred to the swine flu squad. The state figures have reported that over 14 persons had directly approached the government hospitals once they suspected to have contracted the influenza while around 13 individuals were known to be referred by private practitioners.

Any person who may have traveled from a swine flu-affected country or state in the last 10 days and showed symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) that include fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing should immediately contact the Goa Medical college and hospital Bambolim or the cottage hospital at Chicalim.

Government agencies in Goa are expected to follow up on their meetings with private doctors in Goa by launching a massive campaign to inform and educate the Goan public about swine flu and its dos, dont's and necessary precautions.

Meanwhile Goans in Pune studying in various colleges were suddenly left stranded without a college to atteSwine flu precautionsnd or a hostel to reside when both such places were mostly closed down asking students to leave in view of the swine flu outbreak ion the area. As a result the large Goan population in Pune is forced to make their way back to Goa with no place to go.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Goan roads : Signs of abusive neglect

Visible on a busy Margao road in South Goa was the following sign obviously put up by disgruntled citizens, which is a stinging slap on the people responsible for the upkeep of Goan roads. It clearly proves that there is no co-ordination between the various public utility service departments to ensure that the works carried out by them are completed in all respects with proper accountability without proving a hindrance to the citizens. No wonder there is a grave dissent in the minds of the Goan public about the use of helmets in the name of safety alone, when our system is so full of willful potholes.

 death trap on Goan Road

 Road sign in Goa

Will this be the last such sign? Will the authorities ever learn? Will our lives be taken for granted? Will our helmets save us from such whimsical behaviour of our public sector?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Goa students need to learn traffic rules in School

The need to impart traffic rule education in Goan schools came to the fore in the assembly when the opposition MLAs maintained that the transport ministry had failed in its promise to make knowledge on traffic regulations as a part of school curriculum and no steps in this direction had so far been taken. However regular challans were being issued to defaulters with no education measures being undertaken by the governmetraffic rules in Goa schoolsnt to ensure that the alarming rise in the number of road accidents in the state had arrested.

Mr Francis D’Souza, the Deputy opposition leader stressed on the imperative need for the procedure of acquiring a driving license to be made more stringent and lamented that bribes of Rs 500 were enough for anybody to get a licence and urged that unless the people are educated in traffic discipline, the licences should not be issued.

Also Mr D’Souza advised the government that improvement in road engineering aimed at widening accident prone zones would go a long way in reducing accidents considerably in Goa.

Road safety programmes need more teeth to be highlighted effectively to the community in Goa and good highways and one ways were the need of the hour said Mr D’Souza

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Goa number plate contract comes under Parrikars lens

The ambitious plans of the government of Goa to issue a contract for high security number plates has come under the scanner following a calling attention motion by the opposition leader Mr Manohar Parrikar who drew the attention of the transport minister expressing the “fear and anxiety” in the minds of the people of Goa about the decision of the government to grant the contract of fixing the high security imageregistration plates to Shimnit Utsch Private limited who the opposition leader claimed, have a dubious background.

As a consequence of the attention drawn by the opposition leader, the Chief Minister Mr Digambar Kamat and the speaker of the Goa assembly Mr Pratapsingh Rane, urged the transport Minister Mr Ramakrishna Dhavlikar to reconsider the move of allotting the contract to the company.

Mr Manohar Parrikar alleged that the director/promoter of the company Shimnit Utsch has a criminal background. Also he pointed out that the same company was denied the contract vide order dated November 13 2006 manohar parrikar Goaby the director of transport due to their ineligibility. Also the BJP stalwart pointed out that the company had quoted exorbitant rates as compared to rates quoted by other companies in other states . Also traditional painters of number plates in Goa numbering around 200 were under risk of losing their traditional business adding to the unemployment scenario in the state. 

Mr Parrikar also questioned the need of only approaching one supplier of such High security registration plates(HSRP) while there were other such suppliers existing in the country and implied that the government of Goa was creating an unnecessary monopoly situation which was against the interest of the consumer.

In reply the transport minister maintained that the director of the company who was convicted in a criminal case had resigned from the company and was further replaced by his son. Also the Minister informed that the company had won the contract after quoting the lowest rates. However the speaker Mr Pratapsingh Rane brushed off the justification about signing the agreement with the company in good faith and suggested that the false information if any by the company had insulted this faith and hence the government could terminate the contract.

Mr Parrikar informed the house that no other state had made HSRP compulsory and that the governments of Rajasthan and Karnataka were already restrained by the high courts with a stay on the subject .

Goa committee want changes to Land Revenue Code

The age old land revenue code in Goa is crying for an amendment according to the ad hoc committee on finance which has recommended a suitable amendment to the code thus empowering a single authority to manage the process pertaining to mutations and partitions. Presently citizens are facing grave hardships in completing formalities for mutations and partitions of their plots due to the inherent problems in the land revenue code.

Hundreds of cases pertaining to mutation and partitions are therefore piled up in Goa and the citizens are seeking that the partition and mutation of the plots be done at the same time before the deputy collector. Complaints Mutation  and partition of Goa landare aplenty about the adjournment of matters without hearing and the authorities are known to be saddled with their own official work.

The panel has therefore advocated the need to vest powers in a single authority which would invariably save the applicants their time, money and hardship and have sought a suitable amendment to the land revenue code in Goa to accord the jurisdiction to a single authority.

Presently, the mamlatdar of the respective taluka deals with the mutation process under section 96 of land revenue code 1968 while the jurisdiction of partition under section 61 of the land revenue code is with the respective deputy collector under delegated powers of the collector.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Panchayat Raj bill gets assent from Goa govt

The blackest hour in Goa's panchayati raj  came to pass when the ruling benches of the Goa legislative assembly decided on Thursday 6th August 2009 to pass the controversial Goa Panchayat Raj Amendment Bill 2009 as the opposition indulged in a cosmetic exercise of protesting the move by staging a theatrical walk-out with its leader Mr Manohar Parrikar merely shouting that the BJP would not be a party to the bill.

The controversial amendment to the panchayat raj bill seeks to give powers to the bureaucracy instead of the elected represGoa assembly - panchayat raj amendmententatives of the people and threatens to seriously undermine the will of the people in Goa.

The  Bill seeks to amend the section 47 of the Panchayat raj act so as to empower the panchayat secretary to execute the orders passed by the block development officer, director and deputy director of panchayats, state election commissioner and the government. The Goa opposition leader had earlier sought clarifications on which authority the Panchayat secretary was expected to answer and termed the powers granted to him as contradictory which would put the official in a tight spot with regards to whose directions to follow.

The panchayat secretary would not know whose directions to follow when there was the panchayat body, the director of panchayats and the government and Parrikar had merely suggested an additional clause to clarify the secretary's powers and roles.

The bill which was therefore amended on wednesday was duly passed by a voice vote on Thursday. The amended bill in its current form implies that if the panchayat fails to implement any orders passed by any authority in an appeal filed before it by citizens or others under the Goa panchayat raj rules within the specified time period, the secretary of the panchayat will execute them in future. In case the higher authorities have not specified a time limit in the order in connection with the appeal, then the secretary will enforce it within a month from the issuance of the order or the directions.

The draconian legislation now awaits the nod of the governor before being drafted as a law.

Goa MLAs hike their own salaries

The Goa assembly and its 40 MLAs of all parties and affiliations put their differences aside to rise as one force as both the benches gave themselves sizeable pay hikes while adopting the Goa salary, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Legislative assembly (Third Amendment) Bill 2009, putting an additional burden of over 5.81 crore on the public exchequer by effecting this self directed raise.

It was a rare sight with the ruling benches and the Goa opposition forces speaking in tGoa MLAs hike own payhe same vein, tone and spirit with the Goan MLAs now ready to claim some additional benefits due to the latest decision.

From now on, the house members will be able to benefit on loan repayment period which has been extended to 20 years from the prevailing 10 years while the loan amount has also been increased from Rs 12 lakh to Rs 32 lakh. The leader of the opposition Mr Manohar Parrikar also joined the chorus to suggest that an MLA must be paid well and said that while the increase is substantial, it has been done after a period of five years.

The high cost of living in Goa was also pointed to be another factor necessitating the increase as Goa was a tourist destination. The amendment as above will effectively rise the pension to a maximum level of Rs 50,000 depending on the experience and tenure of the MLA concerned

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Goa to implement High security registration plates

The long awaited high security registration plates(HSRPs) are finally on their way to reality in Goa very soon, possibly within a fortnight. The enforcement of such plates on vehicles in Goa will make the state the third in the whole country to employ such registration plates which are expected to enhance the tracking of vehicles thereby posing as a deterrent to vehicle related crimes in Goa.

The High security registration had been given the green signal by the Supreme Court which set a deadline of three months for the central Goa to implement HSRPsand the state governments to implement the high security plates, removing all uncertainty thus setting up August 4th as the deadline for the implementation.The HSRPs were also recommended by a technical committee of experts which reviewed the central Motor Vehicle act 1988.

The HSRPs are empowered with seven security features which help to track down stolen vehicles, prevent their misuse and also trace culprits involved in hit-and-run cases. The move is also expected to help against tax evasion at the time of registration and transfers during resale of the vehicle besides bringing the large unorganised sector of licence plate painters under the organised sector.

The state government of Goa has reportedly awarded the HSRP contract to Shimnit Utsch India Pvt Ltd who are billed as thevehicle thefts in Goa leading licence plate manufacturers in the country. The HSRPs are plates with inherent security features such as retro-reflective sheeting,embossed numbers, IND inscription, unique laser code and snap lock fitment which therefore make these plates tamper proof and prevent vehicle thefts and misuse. The online data is expected to provide real time support to all kinds of vehicles with the HSRPs.

So how does one migrate to the High security registration plate era? All the existing vehicles are given upto two years time to upgrade to the HSRP implementation of the licence plates. The procedure involves approaching the RTO for an application form and the payment for the HSRPs for two wheelers is Rs 550 while for four wheelers it is 1,200. VAT and other taxes are extra.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Margao Municipal Council scouting land for garbage

It is now the turn of the Margao Municipal council to follow in the footsteps of its bigger sibling  the corporation of the city of Panjim(CCP), to hunt for a site to treat garbage in view of its long term requirements. Daily garbage collection in the commercial capital of Goa at Margao is in excess of 50 tonnes which is bound to increase with the passage of time. As such the Sonsoddo garbage dump is likely to be overburdened with any additional load of garbage, which has therefore necessitated the need to look for alternative sites.

Sonsoddo garbage dump The Sonsoddo garbage dump which has been spread over an area of 16,000 sq metres of land is already burdened with piles of garbage which has collected over the years. Moreover the landfill site which is to be set up by one of the two bidders is expected to gobble up around 6000 sq m of land. Add another area which the council plans to separate as an area for treatment of medical waste, and the treatment plant itself which is expected to take some more portion of the land besides the composting units  to be built in the dumpyard, the Sonsoddo garbage dump seems to be in a complete overburdened territory.

However the landfill site which would take around a chunk of 6000 sq metres of land is apparently available for garbage operations after being topped after meeting certain norms. However more land would be required in view of additional waste generation. But although the council had acquired over 30 thousand sq metres of land in the adjoining areas in the nineties, for the purpose of garbage treatment, no work on the landmass was ever taken up due to protests from villagers around the area.

The council is currently engaged in finalising one of the two bidders - IL&FS and Fomento who are jointly bidding on one side and Ramky Enviro Eng Pvt Ltd who are the other bidders for the Sonsoddo garbage project and the winning bid will sign an agreement spanning the next 25 years. The winner of the bid will therefore be entrusted with the responsibility of segregating the garbage, composting it and also filling out landfill operations.

Goan coastline to be inspected for CRZ violations by Union Minister

The CRZ issue which has embroiled Goa for the past few months with the High Court issuing orders to demolish the structures which are illegal, is expected to get a fresh look from none other than the Union Minister for Environment himself. The Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh is expected to lead a delegation to Goa next week to check for himself the status of over 7000 structures standing on the Goan coastline besides over 2,272 houses existing along various rivers in Goa which face the axe of demolition.

Digambar Kamat The above information was given by the Chief Minister Mr Digambar Kamat while replying to a question posed to him by the Mapusa MLA Mr Francis D'Souza who wanted to know what steps the government was taking to protect coastal residents of Goan origin to save their structures from demolition due to the CRZ issue.

The Chief Minister also assured the house that all those who produce valid documents to prove the existence of their houses prior to 1991 would be immediately deleted from the demolition list. Toddy tappers and traditional fishermen of Goa are also sought to be protected from demolition to their structures by the government by exempting them from the list.

The Chief Minister also informed the house about the central governments assurance that the Coastal management Zone notification would be allowed to lapse as he said the same was not required by the state of Goa due to various fears expressed by the Goan fishing community.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Goa's opposition mucks up sweeping machines

The much hyped sweeping machines procured by the government of Goa at a steep cost of over 97 lakh came in for a sharp criticism from the leader of the opposition in the assembly Mr Manohar parrikar who labelled the exercise of procuring them as a 'failure". The Goa government has so far procured five sweeping machines intended to sweep and clean Municipality areas in the state of Goa.

Pointing out the futility of using these machines in the state, the opposition leader indicated that the machines could be used efsweeping in Goafectively on only two major roads of Goa at Panjim's Dayanand Bandodkar road and M G Road. The five machines have been procured at a cost of 97 lakh while an equal number of tractors have been purchased at a cost of 26 lakh to pull these sweeping machines.

In a scathing remark, the opposition leader observed that no study of Goan roads had been undertaken before deciding to procure these machines. Justifying his stance he pointed out to the bends and turns on Goan roads which would make it difficult for these machines to negotiate on such roads and therefore the utilisation of these machines is going to be very minimal which would eventually result in their being kept aside.

The five tractor towed sweeping machines have been procured for four municipal councils of Margao, Panjim, Mormugao and Mapusa.

Replying to the opposition leaders critical remarks, Mr Joaquim Alemao , tManohar Parrikarhe Minister for Urban development said that the cost comparison of tractor towed sweeping machines( costing 18.53 lakh) compared to truck mounted sweeping machines( costing Rs 40 Lakh) was favourable to the purchase of the former and therefore the GSUDA ( Goa State Urban Development Authority)was of the view that considering all factors the tractor towed machines were more suitable to Goan roads. He  also informed that the machines were procured after a number of municipal councils and the corporation of the city of Panjim passed resolutions to that effect.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goa casinos facing rough political weather

The bad dream of the casinos in Goa does not appear to leave them very soon. On Monday 27th July 2009, the tourism Minister Mr Micky Pacheco informed the legislative assembly that he would seal all illegal activities on five of the six off shore casinos whose No Objection certificates have since expired. The Minister was responding to repeated demands and queries made by the opposition leader Manohar Parrikar who wMANOHAR PARRIKARas asking as to why the government was not putting a stop to casino operations in the state when the NOC's issued by the captain of ports had already expired.

Joining the chorus against the casino operations in Goa were congress MLAs Victoria Fernandes and Mauvin Godinho who demanded a ban on casinos and sought to know how casinos are operating in Goa despite the absence of a casino policy in the state.

Goa casinos NOC expiredIn a reply to Parrikar about the details of when the licences of the casinos had expired, the tourism minister gave an account of the NOC expiry dates as below

Name of Casino                             Date of expiry of NOC

Pride of Goa          -------------   April 3 2009
The Leela             -------------   January 30 2009
Casino Royale        -------------   February 18 2009
San Domino           -------------   May 19 2009
Caravela               -------------   April 18 2009

Mr Pacheco added that the NOC of Arabian Sea King is slated to expire on October 30 2009. In the meanwhile the casino operators expressed their shock over the decision of the tourism minister to the Goa legislative assembly  and blamed the government for delaying the issuance of licences on the ground that the matter was sub judice.

Casino operators indicated that the current stance of the government could adversely affect over 2000 employees working in the casinos and suggested a paycut eventuality on a gradual basis to offset the closure period.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Goa government buckles to vernacular theory

The current medium of instruction as an issue which has been plaguing Goan parents, who have been arguing for the cause of English as a medium of choice in Goan schools has taken a hit for the moment.The Goa assembly proceedings on Friday July 24 2009 when the issue was expected to be a hot topic on the agenda was quietly subdued as the two MLAs who were vociferously supporting the cause of English as a medium of instruction aimed at empowering parents to choose for their children, withdrew their resolutioKonkani medium of instructionns aimed at giving English education as a medium in the primary aided schools in Goa

The two congress MLAs Agnelo Fernandes and Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco were however apparently assured of a change in the policy and have appeared to have set the tone for the government to do a serious rethink on the issue. Meanwhile the education Minister Mr Babush Monserrate felt that the local Konkani language needs to be protected and suggested  an enforcement of Konkani as a subject  from class I to X.

Mr Monserrate also dwelled on the fees structure of private unaided schools in Goa and indicated that taking control of these fee structures was imagealso an option before the government and quoted that the Goa School Education Act and Rules prohibit exorbitant fees and expressed the need to implement these rules.

However the latest backtracking of the two congress MLAs over the issue is seen as a move by the congress party to avoid any controversies regarding the issue while silently endeavouring to bring about the necessary change in keeping with the aspirations of the Goan people .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

NHAI's Satanic ignorance of Goa most deplorable

What is the difference between Saint Anne and Satan? Nothing, seems to be the answer for the National Highways authority of India which has conveniently corrupted the name of Saint Anne with that of Satan on its signboards along the NH 17, which is condemnable to say the least. While one would think that mere sensibilities had to prevail before committing the name SATAN to a peaceful and beautiful village of Goa, it is a mystery whether NHAI decides on the various names of places along the highway on mere hearsay or relies on the advice and diction of its migrant labourers who are engaged in the laying of the roads for its highway.

NHAI signboard in Goa

The village of "Saint Anne" or "SantAnne" in Konkani, is located off the national Highway 17 just before the Pilar junction on the eastern side as one proceeds from Panjim to Margao. A quaint village with peaceful surroundings and an abode of lush greenery, SantAnne is named after "Saint Anne"  and has been in the news recently due to the ambitious renovation plans that have been undertaken of the Sant Anne Church. It is the first village encountered by those who choose to skip the highway enroute to Panjim in quest of a traffic free road which runs through the village and after negotiating some quick twists, turns and hills, takes you through the village of Merces at the other end to reach the city of Panjim. The distance to Panjim through this route is cut down by a good two kilometres.

However it seems that the National Highway authority of India or its people engaged in the listing of names along the highway have allowed their common sense or common knowledge to lie rotten amidst their 9 to 5 duty of completing their assigned tasks of putting up name plates along the highways. Any person worth his school under- matriculation would have the presence of mind to understand that "Satan" is indeed the devil. Common sense would demand of anyone to think twice before listing such an evil name along the highway in place of the actual name and would naturally seek more information through enquiries and be satisfied with a thorough  confirmation of such a devilish name if it ever existed for any place. But not the NHAI. It seems they can do what they wish. Bend turn, melt or mould Goan names of places according to their whims and pleasure.

Village of Sant Anne in Goa

What's more is that the name of Satan has been replaced for the name of Saint Anne, who in her lifetime was known to have worked for the kingdom of God. The disgust stems from the fact  that two extremities, one a Saint and another the devil,  having opposite teachings have been carelessly swapped to misguide people and wound the feelings of Goans and christians in particular.

Another neighbouring village of Batim which has been in the news for apparitions of Our lady, has also been listed as Batti on the same signboard. How does NHAI manage to concoct simple names of Goan villages into disgraceful unrecognisable places is a question the authority needs to answer.

While people in Goa would be willing to forgive NHAI for the umpteen errors in the pollution of Goa's village and city names on Goa's part of NH17, the error of SantAnne to Satan is completely unpardonable and appears to be carried out in complete disregard to the sensibilities of Goans or is the work undertaken by an irresponsible agency either deliberately or by the "chalta hai" wisdom of its ability to be immune to accountability.

By Goacom

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