What happens when this new Mandovi bridge is redundant in 20 years or collapses like the first? See the concrete columns supporting an elevated highway being built over an exciting highway which has stood the test of time? At what price? The government admits 1,019.34 hectares was destroyed for 35 mining projects. China imported 15 per cent of its iron ore from India especially Goa. But all most Goans got was environmental degradation.

April 23, 2019

BJP follows the Chinese route?

To my mind there are only two ways to build bridges and elevated highways. The first way is the Chinese way. Hire the world’s best architects and engineers, invest a few billion dollars and build the world’s biggest, break all existing world records enroute to showcase it to the world. Which in China’s case is exactly what it wants -to be the world’s best- and to hell with more down to earth things; like doing it really to serve the purpose. After all, China always does it BIG. Its zero tolerance to opposition and total lack of democracy helps.

The second way is the western way, which is, build bridges certainly, but build them within environmental concerns and constraints. Take the Vasco da Gama bridge over the mighty Tagus River in Lisbon for example. The 12.3 km long cable-stayed bridge built mostly over water, is Europe’s second longest. Its builders took in every single environmental concern while designing it. You would need to Google pictures of the bridge to believe me.

I have crossed it and must say the hinterland it accesses on both ends is far, far bigger than the Panjim and Porvorim land mass the new Mandovi bridge accesses. And, let’s not forget the fact this is the third bridge over this narrow river, which means there is no place for a fourth when this, the latest Mandovi bridge is declared redundant in 20 years or, god forbid, collapses like the first.

Many of you will say this is an unfair comparison, to which I say look at pictures of the Vasco da Gama bridge, especially the topography around it; then have a long hard look at the new Mandovi bridge built mostly on land because of the elevated access road, all of which makes it one hell of a very, very long unnecessary bridge.

The Goan destructive way

Then, there’s the Goan way. Build as big as you can. Acquire farmland and screw the local cultivators. Roughhouse them if necessary. And yes, definitely screw the environment.

But, there’s just one oversized (pun intended) problem here. China’s land mass area is 9,596,961 million sq km. Goa’s is 3,702 sq km! And if you forgot this too, more than 50% of forest land converted in the last 15 years was for iron ore mining. According to the government itself, 1,019.34 hectares was sanctioned for destruction to allow 35 mining projects. Now, as we all know most of Goa’s low grade iron ore went to feed China’s greed for steel.

And yes, the same China that we sell cheap feedstock and the same China that is militarily aggressive against India and thinks that Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it. The same China that props up Pakistan and all the DAILY aggression that comes with it. But there’s never a squeak from the BJP about selling ore to China; but its war cry against Pakistan has extended beyond 24x7 which scientifically only the BJP can achieve.

A Chinese national Shi Ming Li, of the state-controlled China Minmetals Corporation, said in Goa itself recently that China imported 15 per cent of its iron ore from India especially Goa. Now, 15 percent of any Chinese demand, leave alone ore, could mean the environmental degradation of the host country. He was in Goa at the International Iron Ore and Steel Making Raw Materials Conference. Yes, you didn’t know that because the local media is almost at war within to expound the so-called cause of the so-called mining dependents.

Baina bridge – a jigsaw puzzle

Baina beach blemished. The closeness of the bridge pillars to the beach rules out both parking and free movement of traffic

Did I digress? No. Now drive down to Baina’s Rs 548.27 crore (2018 cost and growing) monstrous bridge. The Baina bridge (not the official name) and its multiple loops is like a jigsaw puzzle, confusing. This Made in Goa maze is a specialized corridor connecting the Mormugao Port Trust to NH-17B via Varunapuri, Mangor Hill.

Locals say the bridge is illegal, in violation of the Goa Town & Country Planning Act and a stone’s throw away from the High Tide Line. This, you can see for yourself if you go there. So, what happens to the much vaunted Baina beach beautification project which began in 2016 but can show no results as far as I am concerned? (CAPTION For Lead Picture: Construction debris and concrete have degraded the beach perhaps forever)

Concrete pillars

Next, drive down from the Cortalim area to Panjim. See the hundreds of stout concrete columns/pillars to support an elevated highway being built over an exciting highway which has stood the test of time and purpose. In other words the BJP is building a highway over a highway. Nothing else! Then pause and think. We built the Agaissam bypass which avoids Goa Velha. Great. See the road upon road expansion there. We built and widened roads only to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government who actually met in Delhi but were entertained in Goa. New roads were built, jetties constructed; at a time when you couldn’t make a direct phone call from Margao to Panjim, leave alone Velsao where you didn’t even own a land line. But the BJP argues this is progress. My argument, at what price?

I was there, a cub reporter then. I saw engineers and workers struggle to demolish the old Bambolim concrete hill road the Portuguese built. It was an embarrassment, reported in the media then. Today, it’s just about breaking down the hillside to accommodate the cusp where the curve meets. But to what end?     



CAPTION: Construction debris and concrete have degraded the beach perhaps forever
April 9, 2019