Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Mining rally

Mining Malaise -2

September 2-8, 2013

Pushpa Iyengar

Mining leverage
On Thursday, the mother of all rallies was held in the capital where politicians, trade unions and workers came together to get “legal mining” in Goa started soon.  Panaji’s Azad Maidan reverberated with “start mining, save Goa” by a huge rally attended by truck owners, barge owners, machinery operators and a slew of others indirectly employed in the mining industry which has been suspended since last September after the M B Shah Commission’s report that mining had bled and plundered Goa to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore (1 crore = 1,00,00,000).

But as environmental activist Ramesh Gauns remarked, “Why is it that nobody spoke against the miners and even those who committed illegalities, even without naming them?  Is it the environmentalists who are the culprits? It is those who committed the illegalities who have got them into this mess.”

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Mining in Goa

Mining Malaise -1

August 26-September 1, 2013

Pushpa Iyengar

Caught between a rock and a hard place

In a few weeks, the Goa government which suspended mining activities on September 10, 2012, will be observing its first anniversary.  The year has been marked by flip flops by Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, as the cacophony by stake holders, egging him to put them back into business, has risen coupled by his realization that such a huge chunk of revenue from the mining industry – Goa’s only industry apart from tourism which filled the coffers to the extent of almost 20 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP) – has vanished.

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Colva beach

SHACK ATTACK: Following the script - 3

August 12-18, 2013

Lionel Messias

Strangers in their own land

In April 2008, the shacks of 15 Goans were demolished after the Tourism Department declared their shacks were illegal because their locations were changed from the originally allotted sites.  The license fees were not refunded to them.  The names are: Santiago Fernandes, Maddo Vaddo, Calangute, Alex D’Souza, Maddo Vaddo, Calangute, Cruz Fernandes, Maddo Vaddo, Calangute, Anne fernandes, Maddo Vaddo, Calangute, Maggie D’Souza, Umta Vaddo, Calangute, Bento Gonsalves, Umta Vaddo, Calangute, Francis Correia, Umta Vaddo, Calangute, Sunil Govekar, Nerul, Govind Simepurushkar, Nerul, Ritesh M. Kalangutkar, Nerul, Domingos Pereira, Nerul, Gopal K. Kandolkar, Nerul, Concessao M. Rodrigues, Nerul, Concessao Mendes, Nerul and Francisco C. Fernandes, Saunta Vaddo, Calangute.

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Guest house in Goa

SHACK ATTACK: Following the script - 4

August 19-25, 2013

Lionel Messias

But what about us?

It’s not only the shack owners that are given short shrift by the government.  The guesthouse owner (also the taxi owner) is another fly in the ointment in the eyes of the government.  The smallest guesthouse in Benaulim is required to pay a registration fee of Rs 1,000 to the village panchayat (VP) annually and Rs 500 to the Tourism Department.  In return, the department issues it a totally worthless “approved by government” certificate.  The village panchayat nothing!  The estimated 30-plus guesthouses are part of the VP’s village garbage clearance programme, and no special treatment is accorded to them.  Their garbage is cleared twice monthly only.  Patxa a six-room guesthouse in Benaulim is a typical example, built on the labours of Geraldine Fernandes and her carpenter husband and after knocking on the doors of quite a few banks and being shown the door.  Finally a local co-operative bank agreed to lend her money, but only after she made her case directly before the board of directors, something she is actually quite proud of.

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Shacks in Goa

SHACK ATTACK: Following the script - 2

August 5-11, 2013

Lionel Messias

Shacks are shackled

By the late seventies and early eighties the number of shacks increased by 50 per cent and the trade was officially accepted as being worthy of government help; but not for long as the next decade revealed.  In fact after that eighties announcement, prospective shack entrepreneurs reached out to virgin areas and an entire entrepreneurial community of shack and guesthouse owners was born and flourished.  But it was not to last for long.  Present day governments consider beach shacks as interlopers and want to discourage them and the best way to do this is to harass them into quitting.   
While successive governments did not bat an eyelid when it came to gambling with the livelihoods of a community that (along with guesthouse owners) was once virtually the host community when sustainable tourism was gathering pace and thought by some to be the right choice for Goa; it did not hesitate when it came to earning revenue from the shack owners ruthlessly increasing the license fee from Rs 10 in the beginning to Rs 60,000 for a 14 m x 7m shack size in 2003.  “In 1992, I paid a fee of Rs 50.  It was hiked over the years to Rs 5,000, Rs 7,000 at one time and later from Rs 10,000 to Rs 60,000.”  The SOWS protested the steep 2003 hike and it was reduced.

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