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.

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