Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is bad governance ruining Goa?

That is the question heaping on Goan minds for a long time with the state continuously being ravaged by issues which are affecting the common man most undesirably.

The latest issue plaguing the state is the sense of disregard for the rule of law expressed by the government of Goa in the promulgation of an ordinance to save a city hotel from the sword of democles hanging on their head after the supreme goa mapcourt gave its verdict to demolish a part of the hotel.

The final verdict from the citizens is being formulated in this case.Large rallies, signature campaigns, approaching the supreme court and other such options are being debated by citizens in a bid to infuse some sanity into the rabidity of such a arbitrary decision. Why do the citizens have to intervene in something in which the government didn't have to?

Going backwards, its a case of flips and flops in simple governance. There seems to be no application of mind on anything and every issue is being treated with scant imagination and foresight. In fact its not scant. It seems to be nil imagination.

Some time back we had the issue of granting Goa university the status of a central university. The government unilaterally took the decision to ask for central status without weighing the pros and cons for a small state like Goa which had only one state university.

Many debates later, the government was twiddling its thumbs when the realisation dawned that in a central university, the selection of students and staff is based on an all-India merit and not on basis of domicile.Soon enough the embarrassing backtracking began with the government rewinding it earlier decision and withdrawal efforts were in full mode just when the bill was awaiting the final nod in Parliament. Wasn't it prudence to deliberate on  the decision of granting the central university status in advance before a suitable committee? Who is to be held accountable for such messy foresight?

The regional plan 2011 hatched with the sole motive of destroying Goa's ecological balance and land resources for petty gains of a select few in power, was another shoddy attempt of the government in bypassing stated norms of seeking a consensus from the citizens.

However despite its best efforts to push the regional plan in its rotten form, the government had to secede to the might of the people who forced it to rescind its decision in the favour of the people. Couldn't the government think in favour of the people on its own? Why did the government take Goans for granted? Where was its aam aadmi slogan hidden?

The SEZ's were another high handed exercise foisted on Goans by this toothless governance.In a fit of excitement, favourable to many, 14 SEZ's were brazenly approved for a tiny state like Goa which is already grappling with scarcity of land. However when the people rose in unison against this short-sighted destructive exercise, the government woke up from its wanton slumber.

Not only were the policy on SEZ's withdrawn but the three notified SEZ's were denotified much to the disappointment of central leaders and other experts in the field.Why did the citizens need to wake up the government from its sleep? Who is responsible for the lack of application of mind to allow SEZ's in Goa? Was a social impact study done on the matter? What a farce!

The IT park in Dona Paula and the Food park in Betul are the other mismanaged and arbitrary decisions of the government of Goa which are lying in cold storage after spending a lot of money on the projects. Why are they opposed. Rather on what grounds were they proposed? No one knows any answers. None are given.

The riddle of the continued existence of the sea demon " river princess" despite the protests of the citizens and the continuous denudation of the coastline due to its destructive presence does not seem to move an inch of an effort at solving the problem. All mega projects are being vociferously pursued but the destruction of Goa through the benevolence of the mega demon River princess is being merrily watched by our government for over 7 years. Who is accountable?

The mega projects and its subsequent fallout with almost every village panchayat gram sabha in Goa opposing huge projects which have been planned without adequate study and management or procedures or infrastructure to support these projects is another big failure of the government of Goa to either have the stomach to lay down guidelines or solve the vexed issue or rein in the offenders and corrupt bureaucrats.

The term" mega projects" in Goa is currently construed as anything in concrete which is opposed tooth and nail. In the absence of any guidelines or roadmap, what else do you expect?

It seems that the government of Goa has forgotten "what is governance". Leave alone it being good.

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