Manohar Parrikar tables Goa budget 2018
MMNN:22 February 2018
PANAJI: Hours after being discharged from Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar tabled the budget 2018 in the assembly on Thursday.
After landing in Goa, Parrikar first went to his residence in Panaji. Parrikar arrived at the state assembly complex and held a cabinet meeting. Ministers, MLAs and officials lined up to greet him as he alighting from his official car at 2.25pm. He walked, in his usual style, leaving no indication of his illness, for a meeting with officials.
During his speech in the House, Parrikar said that generating employment would be the main focus of his budget.
"This year will be the year of employment", Parrikar said. The chief minister said he would come out with schemes after sometime.
Parrikar thanked the MLAs and well wishers who prayed for his early recovery.
Earlier, the House passed the appropriation bill moved by Parrikar.
Speaker Pramod Sawant said earlier it was scheduled to be a month-long budget session but later it was curtailed in view of the chief minister's health.
Speaker Pramod Sawant had announced a few hours back that Parrikar would table the state budget at 3pm on Thursday in the Goa legislative assembly
SIT constituted to investigate matka in Goa
MMNN:27 October 2017
PANAJI: The state government has constituted a four-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe matka activities which would come under the jurisdiction of the crime branch of Goa police. The government also appointed retired high court judge A P Lawande to monitor the investigation.
Under secretary (home) Nettal Amonkar said that in pursuance of the order passed by the high court of Bombay at Goa in the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Kashinath Shetye against the state, the government of Goa is pleased to constitute the SIT.
The SIT would be headed by superintendent of police Bossuet Silva.
It will investigate illegal gambling activities which are claimed to be known as matka in the state. The other officers who are a part of the SIT are police inspector Krishna Sinari, police sub-inspector Akshay Gaonkar and Vaman Naik.
Amonkar said that Lawande is appointed to monitor the investigation for the purpose of guiding and advising the SIT in the investigation process in accordance with the law as and when required by the SIT. "The SIT will submit a monthly report of the investigation to the government in the matter," Amonkar added
Shetye, in his PIL, had alleged rampant matka activities in the state. He also alleged a nexus between police and matka operators, as well as the involvement of politicians.
The petitioner had sought a CBI investigation in the case. Shetye argued that the raids conducted by the crime branch were not big enough, also it is not prudent to hand over the investigation to the police as some of them are allegedly providing a helping hand to matka operators in exchange for monetary benefits.
Public prosecutor S R Rivonkar had told the high court that it was difficult to fully contain matka activities and some of the operators are based outside Goa. They run their operations from states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.
In an affidavit filed before the high court of Bombay at Goa by superintendent of police Karthik Kashyap, it is stated that the petitioner and others have not furnished any material evidence to prove their allegations
Early end to white water rafting this yr
MMNN:4 September 2017
Valpoi: White water rafting which is currently in full swing in the Mhadei river may not stretch till the end of September due to deficit monsoon this year. Normally, white water rafting lasts for about four months and at times it extends till mid-October, after the monsoon recedes in September, but less rains this time can be a spoilsport.
"We might have to shut down before September end because of less rains," says rafting instructor, Durga Kumar who joined Southern River Adventure Sports Pvt Ltd, this season. Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) conducts white water rafting through Southern River Adventure Sports Pvt Ltd.
White rafting in Mhadei river kick-starts once the monsoon picks up in June. But this year it started only in July as a result of weak rains.
Even last season, white water rafting had to be concluded earlier than usual due to scanty rains. "We need strong rapids to make rafting, otherwise it's not possible. It is only possible if there is heavy rain activity with water gushing down strongly," said Kumar, who keeps an eye on the participants to ensure that they don't violate safety instructions during the two-hour long rafting activity. He also informs the participants about the birds and vegetation that form a part of the Mhadei river basin.
Introduced about five years ago, the white water rafting activity has got good response for Goa tourism. The domestic tourists who otherwise throng the beaches, were equally enthused by the rafting experience.
Youth lead the way, breathe new life into Hanuman Tirth spring
MMNN:30 Aug 2017
Panaji: Buried under an avalanche of mud and debris during construction of the Ponda bypass, Hanuman Tirth lay suffocated and almost forgotten under the shrubbery. Now, the spring is receiving yet another lease of life.
Hanuman Tirth, also called 'Gaumukh' by some, is one of the five springs in Ponda town that a four-member student team from GVM GGPR College of Commerce and Economics, Farmagudi, has proposed to revive.
For several years after the bypass was laid, and recently, after construction of a flyover was taken up, the spring was shrouded in neglect even as its water could be seen flowing into a pool below the bypass. But now, the age-old spring, which was a font of joy and relaxation for old-timers, wears a different look.
The contractor for the flyover has removed the mud and vegetation from the site. "We've cleared the place of litter and algae frequently," Sachin V Vandagekar, a team member, said.
The Farmagudi college team bagged the Ponda Spring Revival Project after participating in an inter-university competition on water resource management organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) in Delhi. "We were among 10 teams chosen out of 75 institutions," a member said.
The task was not easy and even invited criticism from some citizens due to the slow pace of work. But Gulab Borkar, associate professor and group mentor argued, "During the two-year period, the team created awareness among the people. It also conducted a survey with the help of K D Sadhale of Nirmal Vishwa, a local NGO, to assess the status of the springs," she said.
Congress: Amend Goa Public Gambling Act
MMNN:24 July 2017
PANAJI: The state Congress unit on Sunday rubbished chief minister Manohar Parrikar' idea of a casino policy, calling it an effort to fool Goans.
President of Goa Pradesh Congress committee Shantaram Naik said that instead of a casino policy the state government should amend the Goa Public Gambling Act, 1976 to define the term offshore.
"Goa needs a suitable amendment to section 13 A of the Goa Public Gambling Act, 1976 to define clearly the term offshore so that casinos do not get an escape route and the government is not in a position to misguide the people," Naik said.
Given Parrikar's recent statements about revenue from casinos, Naik asked if the government had done any exercise to find alternate revenue sources.
Cops in Goa nab nearly 90 thousand helmetless riders by mid-2017
MMNN:13 July 2017
PANAJI: Following the crackdown on two-wheeler riders travelling helmetless, there has been a significant increase in the number of chalans issued to violators of this rule. Figures shared by the transport department revealed that over 20,000 more riders were chalaned during the second quarter of this year compared to the first one.
In North Goa alone, 32102 riders were caught riding without helmet while in the South, a total of 25027 violators were caught. Thus making a total of 57129 violations detected from the period of April 1 to June 30 this year.
This is as opposed to a total of 32567 violations detected from January 1 to March 31. Thus showing an increase of 24562 violations detected.
Sources from the transport department informed that the violators were fined Rs 100 for the violation and most of them were directed to counselling.
Section 129 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act states that two wheeler riders should wear protective headgear while travelling. However, despite this rule being in place, the state police department issued a strict advisory only last month
Some trying to raise tension, says Manohar Parrikar on desecrations
MMNN:5 July 2017
PANAJI: Reacting to the recent incidents of desecration of a temple and several crosses in the Salcete and Quepem belt, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said some people are trying to "create issues and raise tension" in the state. The CM directed Goa police to use Google maps to trace the culprits and take strict action against them.
Post the law and order meeting with Goa police, Parrikar told reporters that for the last few days a few miscreants have been damaging crosses and idols, particularly in the Chandor-Margao stretch in Salcete.
On Monday, three incidents of desecration of crosses were reported. At Chandor the "Alma Khuris" was targeted for the second time in just ten days, while at Gudi, a cross in a private property and at Mulas, Paroda a cross on the roadside and an idol were vandalized. Also, at Hodor, Curchorem, a 'ghumti' (small shrine) was found damaged.
On Tuesday, two idols, including that of a 'nandi' inside the Krishna temple at Calconda, Margao, were found damaged, while crosses at Davorlim junction and Raitolem, Curtorim were found desecrated.
"We have no doubts that these incidents have been planned and executed," Parrikar said and added that after the Sunday incident of a cross being damaged at Chandor, he had directed police to tighten patrolling. "Accordingly, police pickets were deployed at locations of various religious structures," Parrikar said.
When asked whether there was any political motive behind the incidents, Parrikar said he suspected that somebody was trying to create an issue in the state where none existed. "This is my reading, not that of the police," he added.
Referring to the desecration of crosses at Aquem, Margao, and Curtorim, Parrikar said till 6am, while the police were present on patrol duty, there were no incidents. Police pickets were present till 5.30am as it is seen that miscreants usually carry out vandalism at night, Parrikar said and added that someone was keeping a watch on police activity and striking accordingly.
"I have issued directions to the police to use every means, including technology, even Google maps, to nab the culprits," Parrikar said and added that he has asked police to check Google as it provides 24X7 mapping of the state.
'Digital presence can help companies grow'
MMNN:30 Jun 2017
PANAJI: Small and medium-scale businesses (SMB), who could double their growth by creating a digital platform, appear oblivious of the benefits of having a digital presence. With just 8,000 Goan firms maintaining an online presence, there is an indication that lack of technical know-how is preventing small and medium businesses from tapping markets beyond Goa, says director for marketing solutions at Google, Shalini Girish
"The fact is that consumers in India and globally are already digital. If businesses want to connect with the consumer, they have to connect where the consumer is. The first step is realize the value of being online," she said after announcing the winners of the SMB Heroes 2017 programme.
Goan manufacturing company Astra Concrete, along with Elsa Marie DSilva's Safecity and Shuchi Pandya's Pipa Bella, were recognized for innovative use of the internet to power their growth.
Citing a joint research study with KPMG titled "Impact of internet and digitization on small and medium businesses in India', Girish points out that profits of SMBs can grow twice as fast through a website, online listing or a smartphone app.
Google shared findings from the study to show that 68% of the 51 million small and medium enterprises are offline and that SMBs with an online presence grow twice as fast compared to those that do not have an online presence
Home away from home for Dempo cadets
MMNN:24 Jun 2017
PANAJI: The youngsters training at the Dempo SC Academy or Dempo School of Excellence, as technical director Katz Naidoo prefers to call it, will have to wait a while before they can get a taste of what the club has in store for them.
Dempo kick-started its academy with the re-opening of the schools on June 5, and although they started training a week later, it will not be until the end of monsoon that they will actually start training at the specially build academy facility in Gandaulim, near Old Goa. For now, the training is under way at the beautiful Pilar Seminary ground.
Technical director Katz Naidoo, too, is not around, and will return to Goa from holiday on July 3. In the meanwhile, it's Remus Gomes who has taken charge of proceedings.
"Katz has planned all the training sessions for the boys and has asked us to work on our own training plans too. We are just concentrating on the basics and focusing on ball control, shooting and dribbling. The boys have to work more with the ball for fitness rather than just run without it," said Remus, former captain of Salgaocar FC.
The 24 players who are now going through their paces were handpicked by Naidoo after an eight-day selection trial in April. The Under-13 boys were carefully selected and are getting accustomed to the new way of life.
"The boys are really hardworking and ready to learn. They need some time to settle down and enjoy their football," said coach Remus.
The trainees are on a five-year scholarship programme and each year a new batch will be inducted. It is the third academy in the state after Sesa FA in Sakhali and the GFDC academy in Margao.
The trainees are likely to move to their new training home in September. It has a lush green grass pitch and will also have a residential campus and an administrative block which is likely to be ready next year. For the time being, the trainees reside in flats in Ribandar and travel to Pilar for schooling.
Parrikar inducts two former Congressmen as cabinet ministers
MMNN:12 April 2017
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday inducted two more ministers in his BJP-led coalition ministry, namely Mauvin Godinho and Vishwajit Rane.
Both the newly-appointed ministers are former Congress leaders.
Godinho and Rane were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha. While Rane resigned from the Congress party and as MLA on the day of the floor test in the state assembly on March 16 before joining the BJP last week, Godinho had switched over to the BJP from the Congress shortly before the February 4 state assembly polls.
The Parrikar-led coalition ministry now includes five ministers from the BJP (including Chief Minister), three from Goa Forward, two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and two Independents.
Speaking to the media, Parrikar said the portfolios to the newly-inducted ministers would be allotted within this week.
The BJP, which won 13 seats in the state legislative assembly polls, cobbled together a coalition government with its allies last month. The Congress had won 17 seats in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly.
Goa's temples are losing their distinctive local features, and the rise of Hindutva may be to blame
MMNN:12 April 2017
Goa's landscape that once stood out for its whitewashed churches, chapels, temples and temple towers is no longer the same - its temples are now a colourful, ubiquitous sight, but one lacking the state's traditional architectural idiom.
Across the state, the temple architecture - which harmoniously blended elements of western Mannerist, Baroque and Rococco with Maratha, Deccan Sultanate or Bijapuri Islamic, and local Konkan vernacular building forms - is being demolished for renovation.
"In the name of jirondhar, or temple renovation, so many of Goa's distinctive temples, and with it, their religious art, carvings, murals, sculptures, carved wooden pillars have been pulled down, and age-old schist idols immersed in rivers," said Prajal Sakhardande, president of Goa Heritage Action Group. "In its place new concrete structures come up, with architectural styles that do not reflect Goa's ethos."
Goa's temple ethos
In their 1983 essay on temple sanctuaries Goa - An Encounter, Saryu Doshi and PP Shirodkar wrote: "Unlike most Hindu shrines in other parts of India, the temples in Goa are not surmounted by a shikhara, but by a dome.... and reflects... an acceptance of Islamic and Christian architectural forms." The tripartite division of the mandapa or hall, the transept-like area in front of the sanctum sanctorum, with side entrances in the form of small domed pavilions visible in temples, reflect a "familiarity with church architecture".
The Goan temple lamp-tower is also unique, merging a Maratha form with elements of Portuguese Christian architecture. It is this layout which gives many temples built in that era an almost church-like appearance, while church iconography is similarly imbued with Hindu elements.
But Nagara and Dravidian styles are now beginning to dominate the landscape - with Alpha Vimana shikharas, Latina Nagara shikharas amd Dravida shikharas replacing the traditional Goan dome.
A history lecturer at a city college, Sakhardande says he has lost track of the number of times he has attempted to convince temple committees to retain old historic structures, and build afresh if they must, on adjacent sites. "We've been successful in a few cases, but I am sorry to say, neither the government nor some temple committees are interested in protecting this heritage," said Sakhardande. He has a point.
Since the end of the Portuguese rule in Goa in 1961, temple reconstruction has taken place in two phases, according to a 2013 study by Leanne Alcasoas. The first phase, between 1961 to 1980, marked the renovation and expansion of grand community temple complexes. These opted to retain traditional elite Indo-European styles, creating a grandeur which rivalled the iconic Churches in the terrain.
The second temple renovation/rebuilding/building boom began in the late 1990s, and seems far more hectic and problematic according to conservationists. Politically, this period coincides with the growth of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, and the rise of identity politics.
Community consciousness and community worship replaced earlier practices of individual worship, requiring village temple halls to accommodate large gatherings. Political funding for religious structures, government funding to convert agricultural water ponds to religious immersion spots, became a political trend in this period, in direct co-relation to the intense political competition in a young state (Goa received statehood in 1987).
AAP alleges laxity by Goa government in dealing with liquor ban
MMNN:5 April 2017
The AAP in Goa has accused the Manohar Parrikar government of being lax in tackling the situation which arose in the tourist state following the SC order banning sale of liquor along highways.
"We express grave concern over the laxity with which the state government is dealing with the alarming situation which has risen out of the Supreme Court ruling on liquor outlets along highways," AAP leader Elvis Gomes told reporters here yesterday. Both the government and the Opposition in Goa miserably failed to gauge the seriousness of the issue throughout the two-year-long proceedings in the Supreme Court, he added.
"Why did Goa not present its case like Sikkim and Meghalaya did, and seek exemptions and special provisions for Goa ?," Gomes asked. The AAP has demanded that the Goa government work towards getting state highways de-notified wherever legally feasible. "National highways where by-pass roads are already commissioned, those portions should also be de-notified," he felt.
Gomes said in the meantime, the office of Advocate General of Goa and State Law Department be instructed to work on approaching the SC with Goa's special case citing the 105-km coastline and 33 per cent forest cover of the state to seek exemption and/or reduction in the buffer zone adjoining the highways.
Chief Minister Parrikar had yesterday said that his government was contemplating approaching the SC for proper clarification (on the order), and possibly seek some special consideration for the tourist state. He said that following the SC order pronounced on March 31, around 1,000 out of 3,000-odd outlets (in Goa) that were facing closure got a respite but the problem persists for the remaining 2,000 vends.
MLA Vishwajit Rane who quit Congress after Goa election will join BJP tomorrow
MMNN:5 April 2017
Former Goa Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane, who defied the party whip to vote against the trust motion of chief minister Manohar Parrikar last month, will join the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday, a party leader said.
Rane, who was elected from Valpoi constituency, had resigned from the Congress and quit his assembly membership after absenting himself from the House when Parrikar sought the trust vote.
"Vishwajit Rane would be joining BJP tomorrow. He has not put any condition to join the party," BJP's state president Vinay Tendulkar told.
Rane is the son of Congress veteran and former chief minister Pratapsinh Rane, who was also elected to the assembly from Poriem seat in North Goa during the recent state polls.
Asked if Rane would be inducted into the state cabinet, Tendulkar said, "It would be the decision of the chief minister."
The BJP Goa legislature wing recently adopted a resolution seeking Rane's induction into the party and the cabinet.
When contacted, Rane confirmed that he will be joining the BJP on Thursday.
"My entry to the BJP is unconditional. I want to work for the growth of the party and also for the development of my constituency," he said.
Rane quit the Congress last month because the party failed to form the government in Goa despite it emerging as the single largest party winning 17 seats in the 40-member assembly.
In the trust vote held in the House, Parrikar proved his majority with 12 legislators from BJP, three from Goa Forward Party , three from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, three Independents and one from NCP voting in favour of the trust motion.
The opposition benches included 16 MLAs from Congress, as Rane had remained absent during the voting.
After failing to defeat the trust motion, the Goa Congress said it would seek disqualification of Rane from contesting elections for defying its whip to vote against the motion.
Parrikar will inherit challenges of illegal mining, crime against tourists and unemployment
MMNN:22 March 2017
Verdant Goa has been a tourist magnet for decades. With mining having stalled, tourism has become Goa's largest employer - one in 10 Goans works in this sector.
However, lately Goa has been in the news for frighteningly violent crimes against tourists, including rape and murder. India's smallest state reported 26 crimes against foreign tourists in 2015, the fourth-highest after Delhi (113), Maharashtra (36) and Uttar Pradesh (32). Crimes against tourists remain high even as the state recorded a 9.4% drop in rape cases and 8% in murder cases overall in 2015, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
This is just one of Goa's many pressing challenges that the Bharatiya Janata Party government must face as it resumes power over the state following the recent assembly elections.
The party has its task cut out for the next five years: improve oversight of its mining industry, spruce up infrastructure particularly with a view to managing burgeoning tourism and generating employment, enhance public health performance, and support all of these by restoring growth to pre-mining ban times.
Here's a closer look at the challenges and what the BJP has promised in its manifesto.
Mining ban and its fallout
One of India's most prosperous states, Goa had India's highest per capita income (Rs 2,62,124) in 2014-'15.
However, Goa has struggled to tackle the fallout of a two-year mining ban which ended in 2014, after the Supreme Court made regulation tighter and iron ore prices dropped internationally, causing the sector to stall.
Before the ban, during 2010-'11 and 2011-'12, Goa's gross state domestic product had grown at 16.9% and 20.2%, respectively, helped by peak iron ore prices. Before this, between 2008-'09 and 2009-'10, Goa's state GDP had been stable at 10%.
After the ban was imposed in 2012, Goa's GDP grew 4.2% in 2012-13, though it recovered to 7.7% in 2013-14 and 7.4% in 2014-15 (quarter ending March 2015).
Pramod Sawant elected speaker of Goa assembly
MMNN:22 March 2017
Pramod Sawant, BJP MLA from Sanquelim, was elected as the speaker of the Goa legislative assembly on Wednesday.
Sawant got the support of 20 members of the house, including from allies Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Forward Party and Independent MLAs.
Congress candidate for the post, Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco, an MLA from Curtorim, could manage only 15 votes.
Churchill Alemao, NCP MLA from Benaulim, chose not to support any of the candidates.
Also, while Vishwajit Rane of Valpoi constituency was absent from the assembly following his resignation from the assembly and Congress, Nilesh Cabral of BJP reached the assembly hall late and was therefore not able to take part in the voting.
"I will ensure that I fulfil the duties and responsibilities which come with this chair," Sawant said after his election to the post. "I will also remain impartial as a Speaker and will ensure that the proceedings of the house are carried out in order."
Congress's Babu Kavlekar and Ravi Nayak congratulated him. The party's Luizhino Faleiro also extended his wishes to the speaker, post which the house was adjourned.
'Zero Tolerance Towards Crimes Against Women And Children'
Speaking to the media after the assembly was adjourned, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said that the budget which is going to be presented on Friday will ensure that it has something for all the Goans.
"The spirit of 'goemkarponn' will be maintained in the budget. We will ensure that the voters do not feel dejected by the budget," said Parrikar.
When asked about the recent rape and murder of a British-Irish woman in Canacona, Parrikar said, "We are not going to tolerate any kind of injustice or crimes against women and children."
"We want Goa to be a safe place so that women can walk free even in the night without any kind of fear in their mind," he said.
Goa elections: BJP, Cong out to woo independents
MARGAO: MMNN:8 March 2017
With poll pundits predicting a fractured mandate in the assembly polls, the backroom channels of the two major political parties of the state-BJP and Congress-are already engaged in talks with some key independent candidates who are likely to emerge triumphant, in a bid to win them over to their respective sides.
There are 58 independents in the fray this time, a 22% dip in numbers compared to the 2012 assembly polls. Of the 72 candidates who had contested as independents in the 2012 polls, five had made it to the assembly, the maximum the state had ever elected. Vijai Sardesai from Fatorda, Avertano Furtado from Navelim, Benjamin Silva from Velim, Naresh Sawal from Bicholim, and Rohan Khaunte from Porvorim, made their mark in the last assembly.
Though all five are seeking to return to the assembly the second time and have their fates sealed in the February 4 polls, Sardesai is contesting on Goa Forward Party (GFP) of which he is the mentor, while Sawal has been nominated by MGP.
All the five independents had together polled 1,41,517 votes, translating into 16.67% of the total votes polled during 2012 polls. Of the 58 independents in fray this time, 33 are from south Goa constituencies while north Goa has 25.
The BJP has fielded its candidates in 36 constituencies and strategically backed independents in several others, while the Congress contested 37 seats. Both the parties are hoping to form the government with the help of the independents in case they fall short of the magic figure of 21. The role of victorious independent candidates would thus become crucial as they could hold the key to government formation. "The independents would be ever willing to shake hands with the single largest party to form the winning coalition and negotiate for a "suitable" berth as their pound of flesh," a political observer said.
Sources informed that BJP has already reached out to at least five independent candidates. Notwithstanding the confidence exuded by the BJP brass of winning 23-24 seats, the saffron party is not willing to take any chances in the seats falling in the "uncertain" category. Party sources disclosed that Sanguem, Canacona, Santa Cruz, Cuncolim and Vasco constituencies are those which the BJP has categorized into this class and a "top leader" is already in touch with the "strong" independents from these constituencies in case they manage to win these seats. Prasad Gaonkar from Sanguem, Ramesh Tawadkar from Canacona, Rudolf Fernandes from Santa Cruz, Joaquim Alemao from Cuncolim and Krishna 'Daji' Salkar from Vasco-all independents-are the ones who may be poached by BJP if the situation so desires.
Poll watchers do not negate the probability of Gaonkar emerging triumphant in the closely contested three-cornered battle in Sanguem. The independent 'tribal' candidate has challenged BJP's incumbent MLA Subhash Phal Desai and Congress candidate Savitri, wife of Quepem MLA Chandrakant Kavleker.
Caste politics plays a crucial role in the polls in this constituency, and if tribal votes switch over to Gaonkar considerably, Phal Dessai could well be in real trouble, though poll observers feel Phal Dessai will pull through.
Similar is the situation in Canacona, where BJP rebel, Tawadkar, is engaged in a three-cornered contest with BJP's Vijay Pai Khot and Congress' Isidore Fernandes. Poll watchers say, Tawadkar, who is riding high on sympathy crest after being denied nomination by the BJP, may well emerge victorious in a contest that turned out to be increasingly unpredictable in the days running to the polls.
In Cuncolim, poll watchers say, the multi-cornered contest could sway any which way, and it is this unpredictability that has led to BJP open talks with Alemao.
In Vasco, BJP rebel Krishna 'Daji' Salkar has challenged incumbent MLA Carlos Almeida. In the not-so-unlikely probability of Salkar emerging victorious, he would be the much sought after prey of the poaching parties.
Election Commission ban on exit polls overrides right under freedom of press, court told
MMNN:8 March 2017
An affidavit was filed in the Bombay High Court at Goa by the Goa Additional Chief Electoral Officer Narayan Navti on Monday stating that the Election Commission's order curtails the right under Freedom of Press to conduct exit polls and declare results during the election process. In the affidavit filed in connection with a petition filed by a Goa media house, the ACEO added that it is a reasonable restriction imposed in the interest of public order and morality.
The ACEO in his affidavit reiterated that exit polls are prohibited between February 4 from 7 a.m. and 5.30pm of March 9. The Election Commission of India had earlier stated that that the exit polls can be telecast after 5.30 pm on March 8, 30 minutes after polling ends. But the deadline was later extended to March 9.
Speaking to The Hindu, the petitioner, Pramod Acharya, editor of Prudent Television, asked that since the Election Commission had prohibited them from even conducting exit poll as per its affidavit, "Which exit polls it is allowing [to telecast]by the way?"
The Goa-based media house had filed a petition before the High Court pleading to allow them to conduct an exit poll and to publish it after 5.30 p.m. on March 8. High Court did not grant the interim relief to the petitioner to collect the data on the election day, but the court observed that the prayers need to be heard.
ACEO in his affidavit filed before the High Court has contended that in view of the notification dated January 27, 2017 issued by ECI, any media has no right to conduct exit poll data on the election day. CEO has further contended that while seeking the relief to collect data on the election day, the petitioner should have challenged the notification issued by ECI.
During the hearing on Monday, the High Court raised the question as to why it is written that 'publication of Exit Poll result during code of conduct period is not allowed' if the collecting data itself is barred. The High Court has adjourned the hearing for March 15.
Goa governor convenes day-long Assembly session
PANAJI:MMNN:27 Feb. 2017
Goa governor Mridula Sinha has called for a day-long session of the Assembly on February 8 in a bid to avert a constitutional crisis, as the Assembly has not been in session for nearly six months.
Earlier, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had claimed that there was no need to convene a session of the outgoing Goa Assembly and had ruled out a constitutional crisis emerging out the ongoing electoral process. The State Assembly polls were held on February 4, and the counting of votes will be held on March 11.
The Opposition had earlier demanded that the governor should either dissolve the House or convene a session of the Assembly. Activist Aires Rodrigues has approached the Bombay High Court in Goa regarding the issue.
In a letter sent to Ms. Sinha earlier this month, Goa Congress president Luizinho Faleiro had urged her to summon a session of the Assembly by March 3, or dissolve the Assembly, as per the provisions of Article 174 of the Constitution. The letter read, "If the government of the day seeks to continue in office without having the seating within six months, then it will be wholly unconstitutional and the government will be an unconstitutional government."
Now, Centre identifies 263 'enemy properties' in Goa
MMNN:27 Feb. 2017
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has identified 263 enemy properties worth over Rs 100 crore in the state that belong to Goans who have acquired Pakistani nationality. These properties assume significance as the Union government intends to take them over by passing a law in Parliament.
Enemy properties are those whose survey numbers are registered in the names of Goans who migrated to Pakistan decades ago. After these Goans accepted Pakistani citizenship and India declared Pakistan an enemy state around 1965, their properties were declared enemy properties.
Most such properties are located in the talukas of Bardez and Salcete, while a few lie in Tiswadi, Bicholim and other parts of the state.
The home ministry has forwarded a list of enemy properties to both district collectors and has directed them to collect the lease rent from their occupants. Sources said several people have already approached courts, staking claim to these properties.
Advocate Cleofato Coutinho said there should be a mechanism in place for citizens who have changed their nationality to claim their property. "The problem with the current law is that it is very difficult to get such property back," he said.
On September 11, 1965, a central government notification stated that all immoveable properties in India belonging to, or held, or managed on behalf of Pakistani nationals were to be treated as enemy properties, and that control over them was to be vested in the custodian of enemy property.
Matters relating to enemy property are dealt with under the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and Enemy Property Rules, 2015.
These cases involving enemy properties are dealt with under the Enemy Property (amendment and validation) Ordinance promulgated by the President of India on January 7, 2016.
Goa Assembly Election 2017: AAP's Elvis Gomes is in for a tough but not impossible fight
PANAJI:MMNN:21 Dec. 2016
Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party (APP) supremo and incumbent Delhi chief minister, would not be what he is if did not indulge in theatrics. A modest crowd that had gathered at a ground near the Cuncolim bus stand in South Goa on Monday, were hardly amused when Kejriwal anointed AAP's Goa state unit convenor Elvis Gomes as his party's chief ministerial face for the upcoming state legislative assembly elections midway through his public rally.
The real theatrics lied in selection of the venue and date of Kejriwal's second Goa rally after his May rally in North Goa. It was one incident that took place on another Monday some 433 years back that etched Cuncolim's name in golden letters of Goa's history when 73 years after Portugal had colonised Goa in the early years of the 16th century, a revolt took place and local villagers killed 20 persons on 25 July, 1583, including five priests in protest against destruction of Hindu temple and their forced conversion to Christianity. It was later to be termed as Goa's first war of independence, though the actual liberation had to wait for another 378 years when Indian armed forces set foot on Goa and made the Portuguese surrender on December 19, 1961.
Team Kejriwal thus zeroed down on Cuncolim for their supremo Kejriwal to kickstart AAP's herculean task of coming to power in the upcoming elections on the day Goa was celebrating 55 years of its liberation. His clarion call, expectedly, was to liberate Goa now from the alleged corruption perpetuated over the years by the national arch-rivals Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party. Ironically, Kejriwal named Gomes, a fellow bureaucrat-turned-politician, as the AAP torchbearer, though Gomes himself is embroiled in a corruption allegation when he served in the past as Director of Tourism in a land scam.
Kejriwal, however, would have none of it in his single-minded pursuit of replacing Narendra Modi as the Indian prime minister when the next general elections are held in another two and a half years. Unseating BJP from power in Goa is an integral part of Kejriwal-led AAP's national dreams that came a cropper in 2014.
Kejriwal, a political greenhorn in 20114 Delhi elections, had then decided to take huge risk of his life by contesting against the incumbent Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit in her New Delhi assembly constituency and emerged successful. Unlike Kejriwal, Gomes has not been pitched against the Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar from his Mandrem constituency. Gomes is seeking to enter the Goa legislative assembly from his home constituency Cuncolim where he was born and brought up and is expected to lock horns with BJP's sitting state lawmaker Subhash alias Rajan Naik.
Gomes, 53, may or may not come out of the land corruption taint in his otherwise impeccable record as a Goa bureaucrat who opted for voluntary retirement in July this year after an FIR was filed against him and the former Goa tourism minister Nilikant Halarnkar. It, however, did not prevent him from declaring that one of his first acts as the Goa chief minister would be to construct the unfinished wing of newly constructed Colvale prison so that the corrupt Goa politicians belonging to the BJP and the Congress party are jailed there.
Gomes was serving as Inspector General of Prisons with additional charge of Urban Development Secretary when he quit as a bureaucrat even while he was in line for promotion as an IAS and joined AAP shortly thereafter.
A Goa civil services officer, Gomes has served Goa in various posts and capacities. He is generally admired for his upright approach including his role in promoting responsible and clean tourism and ensuring jobs for locals in the tourism industry.
It may appear that despite sharing a common bureaucrat-turned-politician background, Kejriwal and Gomes need each other. Bereft of any reliable name and a crowd-puller, Kejriwal needed to piggy ride Gomes' popularity to power in Goa while Gomes in return needed a platform to nurture his political ambitions that he had successfully kept under wraps until he joined AAP on 5 October this year.
Their mutual roles were already fixed. While Kejriwal went hammer and tongs after Modi - attacking him over the recent demonetisation and yet unsubstantiated allegation of Modi receiving bribe in the past as the Gujarat chief minister. Gomes on his part trained his guns on the Goa BJP and Congress party leaderships.
Gomes, in his address, reminded people of various scams that Goa has witnessed and said that BJP came to power in the state promising corruption-free governance. He criticised BJP turning a blind eye on corruption and adding more to the existing list of scams in Goa, in almost screeching voice matching that of Kejriwal.
Since AAP cannot be separated from corruption, the focal point of Monday rally was corruption. AAP was born out of anti-corruption nation-wide movement of social reformist Anna Hazare, rode to power in Delhi with astounding victory by winning 67 out of 70 seats on offer and itself is now facing charges of getting involved in corruption charges.
Kejriwal was accompanied by all 33 AAP nominees for Goa polls, expected to be held in February-March next year and announced that all of them were free from corruption charges, as he had done even before Delhi polls, though by now many of his party lawmakers are either lodged in prison or facing police cases.
He further announced in his trademark dramatic style that AAP would pull out of the contest from any particular constituency if any of the AAP nominees are proven corrupt even at the eleventh hour. He, however, did not explain why and when AAP would name its candidates for the remaining seven constituencies. Speculations are rife that AAP is unable to zero down on suitable candidates and may nominate political turncoats who have joined the party in the run-up to the state polls. Manny of them enjoy a far from clean image.
For Gomes, the fight has just started. Kejriwal has given him the AAP baton in Goa by making an exception and officially naming him its chief ministerial face, unlike in other poll-bound states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Gomes has to fight against odds like lack of funds and workers, ignite dreams of corruption-free administration and deliver Goa on a platter to Kejriwal while fighting his own corruption taint and ensuring his own victory. By all considerations, it may sound tough, if not an impossible call for him.
Goa may land in trouble for relying on import: Deputy CMFrancis D'Souza
MMNN:21 Dec. 2016
Deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza said Goa's reliance on everything, from vegetables to grains and pulses, that get imported from other states, may put the state in trouble.
"People are not inclined to take up agriculture even as the agriculture department offers many subsidy schemes.
With its high reliance on others, Goa will get into a serious trouble if there is an emergency situation, said the deputy chief minister while speaking at an Aldona panchayat function on Liberation Day on Monday.
A website was inaugurated, door to-to garbage collection was launched and 14 senior citizens were felicitated for their exemplary contributions at the hands of D'Souza. Aldona MLA Glenn Ticlo, BDO Krishnakant Pangam, sarpanch Trisha Naik were also present among others.
D'Souza said it was a matter of concern that large tracks of land are left unploughed in Goa. He requested people to avail the schemes introduced by the government to promote agriculture.
"The farmers in the neighbouring states were committing suicides for lack of support from their governments but in Goa the situation has been entirely different. There are so many different schemes but it's a pity that there are no takers," D'Souza said.
'Lay counsellors' help fight depression, harmful drinking
PANAJI:MMNN:17 Dec. 2016
At Goa's Bicholim village, Sunaina Harlankar (42), counsels patients with depression or alcohol addiction with the deftness of a professional. Harlankar, interestingly, is a commerce graduate and a homemaker with no professional mental health care experience. She is one of 11 people recruited for two randomised control trials in Goa to work as "lay counsellors" to tackle the massive burden of harmful drinking and depression.
About conselling patients, she said: "I need to respect the patient first and then offer psychological therapy. It was tough at first, but the rigorous training I was offered has made me confident."
On Thursday, medical journal The Lancet published online that these lay counselling services have helped reduce symptoms of severe depression, reported higher remission rates and even abstinence from alcohol.
Six weeks ago, the Centre reported in the national mental health survey that one in 20 adults in the country is affected by depression, and nearly one in 10 adult men by harmful drinking. Together, the two disorders affect 65 million Indian adults.
The two trials are funded by UK-based global charitable foundation, Wellcome Trust, and conducted in Goa as part of the Programme for Effective Mental Health Interventions in Under-Resourced Health Systems (PREMIUM). The trials assess the effectiveness of a brief psychological treatment for harmful drinking and depression, delivered by "lay counsellors" in primary care.
Dr Vikram Patel, psychiatrist and principal researcher for the trials, told The Indian Express that the treatment gap for both disorders in the country is a staggering 85 per cent. "One-third of the global burden of mental illness is in India and China, which is more than in all the high-income countries put together. Yet, in both India and China, less than 1 per cent of the national healthcare budget has been allocated to mental health care," he said.
Patel, who is also principal research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and other researchers devised a cost-effective solution to the shortage of trained mental health specialists in the country.
"The treatment is brief, delivered by non-health specialists and provided at routine primary health care settings. The aim of the trials is to address the lack of mental health professionals in India. According to estimates, there are just 5,000 psychologists and psychiatrists in the country, but most are working in cities. Few of them provide psychological therapies," Patel said.
Goa turning into incubation hub
MMNN:17 Dec. 2016
Goa will soon have yet another incubation center which will be in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology,
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), industry body FICCI at the Don Bosco Engineering College in Margao.
National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI), an umbrella program is pioneered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India for nurturing ideas and innovations (knowledge-based and technology-driven) into successful startups.
In order to realise the Prime Minister's ambitious initiative on Start-up India, DST aims to bring both speed and scale to transform the start-up ecosystem in the country. NIDHI focuses on building a seamless and innovation driven entrepreneurial ecosystem especially by channelizing youth towards it and thereby bringing in the positive impact on the socio-economic development of the country. The program aims to provide technological solutions not only to the pressing needs of the society but also targets to create new avenues for wealth and job creation.
NIDHI, by design connects and strengthens all the links of the innovation chain from scouting to sustaining to securing to scaling to showcasing, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The key stakeholders of NIDHI includes various departments and ministries of the central government, state governments, academic and R & D institutions, mentors, financial institutions, angel investors, venture capitalists, industry champions and private sectors. NIDHI strongly addresses the new national aspirations by massively scaling up DST's experience of three decades in promoting innovative startups.
DST has approved the first NIDHI-TBI for Goa through the approval of the incubator at Don Bosco College of Engineering, Fatorda. The focus in this incubation center will be on defence related projects.
In order to establish a close collaboration with the industry for the effective implementation of the objectives of the NIDHI-TBI a MoU has been signed by Don Bosco College of Engineering with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The college is also collaborating with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on projects with research inputs with an objective of promoting research based start-up enterprises in Goa.
Senior officials from the DRDO and FICCI visited the college during mid-October this year to ensure that the new incubation center comes up and the people taking benefit of this will have an easier time to scale up the ladder in their business proposition with the help of renowned mentors.
Prinicipal of the Don Bosco College of Engineering, Dr Neena Panandikar while speaking to the Herald said, "Initially we received a sanction of Rs 8.4 crore from the Government of India and in association with the Department of Science and Technology we signed a MoU with FICCI. We are also associated with the DRDO and their scientists and senior officials visited this institution to interact with our faculty members to find out if there can be any collaboration with some of the DRDO projects. Our faculty members have sent about a dozen proposals to the DRDO already and the selection process of those is already been discussed."
She added that FICCI is also helping us in getting some industries linked to the institution. We are expecting about 300 companies to get linked to us through FICCI and this will certainly be an advantage to us for placement of our students.
The architect of this new incubation center, Bryan J Soares confirmed to the Herald that, "By the end of March next year, the incubation center should be ready for use as we can build it up in phases and realistically by mid-March the center will be ready for use."
Father Kinley D'Cruz, director of the Don Bosco Engineering College said that, "I am looking at a period of four months from now when this incubation center should be ready." When asked how this new incubation center will help Goa in leverage itself in the start-up world, Father D'Cruz said, "Firstly, our students will get a very broad perspective, apart from doing just engineering. It will also help other incubatees. Secondly, because of the lack of job opportunities in Goa we want to encourage our students to get into their own start-ups and generate employment rather than look out for employment. This will allow the students to think bigger, broader and out of the box."
Rs 24 Lakh Cash in New Currency Seized in Goa
PANAJI:MMNN:14 Dec. 2016
Cash worth Rs 24 lakh in new currency was seized from three locals in Calangute village of Goa, police said on Wednesday.
The three men were travelling in a car which was intercepted and searched last night following a tip-off that cash was being taken for converting black money into white, police inspector Jivba Dalvi told.
During the search, the three men were found with a bag carrying Rs 24 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination, he said.
The men were part of a gang allegedly involved in converting black money into white by charging 40 per cent commission, he said.
"We are interrogating them so that we can find the origin of the cash," Dalvi added.
Congress MLA to join BJP in Goa
MMNN:14 Dec. 2016
Congress MLA from Dabolim constituency, Mauvin Godinho, said he would join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on December 16, after resigning from the Congress on the same day.
In what could be a shot in the arm for the BJP, a Congress legislator is set to join the saffron party, which has sacked two ministers from an allied political party amid drama.
Speaking to IANS on Tuesday, Congress MLA from Dabolim constituency, Mauvin Godinho, said he would join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on December 16, after resigning from the Congress on the same day.
"On December 16 I will formally join the BJP. The Congress is destined for doom because of the manner in which the party treats senior leaders," Godinho said.
Although elected on a Congress ticket in 2012, Godinho has been backing the BJP and slamming the Congress for the last three years.
Incidentally, during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's first stint as Goa Chief Minister and Home Minister, he had booked Godinho in connection with a multi-crore power scam which even resulted in his arrest.
Two years back, the Congress state leadership had resolved to distance itself from Godinho, accusing him of working against the party and refusing to heed to its diktats.
The Dabolim seat which Godinho represents, was one of the key points of disagreement between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, with both the parties claiming the seat for the upcoming state assembly elections.
Parsekar on Monday sacked two ministers from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) from his cabinet, accusing them of unfairly challenging his authority.
The dismissal of the ministers, Sudin Dhavalikar and his brother Deepak, followed constant criticism by the duo of Parsekar, calling him a weak and ineffective Chief Minister who had taken Goa 10 years behind the time in the terms of development.
However, according to Parrikar, the sacking of the ministers does not necessarily mean the alliance has ended.
He said on Tuesday that the BJP was willing to look into the proposals conveyed by the MGP leaders "through proper channels".
Goa: State police probe death of a foreign national
PANAJI:MMNN:10 Dec. 2016
Goa Police are probing into the case of unnatural death of a senior citizen of Netherland nationality, whose body was discovered in a decomposed state at her flat in Calangute beach on Thursday.
The investigators ascertained that the 64-year old Nicolle Marthe Madeleine Genonceau had died on Tuesday. However, no one took note of her absence until foul smell started emanating from her room late Thursday evening.
According to the police, Madeleine ran a private tours and travels company which has been registered in the country since 2006. "Nicolle also held valid documentation for her stay in India till 2017," an official said referring to details obtained by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) website.
The jurisdictional police have registered a case of Unnatural Death (UD), and the body of the deceased as been sent to Goa Medical College (GMC) for postmortem and preservation.
The police officials added that they have referred the matter to the respective embassy through FRRO and following autopsy report they will continue the probe.
Goa needs a revolution like Delhi: AAP
MMNN:10 Dec. 2016
AAP leader Ashutosh Gupta on Friday took potshots at the BJP government in the state, allegedly accusing it of making Goa the gambling capital of the country. He said the government has also betrayed the people of Goa as regards the promises made during the last assembly election.
Addressing a public rally in Chandor, he said Goa was known for its culture, peace-loving people and scenic beauty; however, today it has become notorious for gambling, drugs and prostitution.
Where are the promises made by the BJP government that they would stop the casinos, he questioned and added that, on the contrary, "large hoardings of casinos welcome you at the airport, railway stations etc." He said Goa needs a revolution like Delhi as the people are fed up of Congress and BJP.
He said if AAP, given a chance, will provide clean administration and focus on human development by improving education and medical care.
AAP Cuncolim candidate Elvis Gomes said that there is a need to clean up the administration and give the people good governance.
Activist Dr Jorson Fernandes said the Congress has no moral right to contest and protest the nationalisation of rivers. He also attacked the BJP for failing to fulfil the promises made during the last election and called upon the people not to fall prey to the false promises made by Congress and the BJP.
Meanwhile, at a public meeting at Curchorem, on Thursday evening, another AAP leader Kapil Mishra said that "people from all over India are anxiously waiting to see what will be the election results in Goa and, thereafter, the politics of entire nation is going to change." Speaking in context of Singapore, he said Goa has natural beauty and a rich culture which Singapore does not have. But inspite of being a small country in the world, he said Singapore makes a huge income through its tourism-related activities. "The difference is only that Singapore government is working for the welfare of its people while Goa government is working for the welfare of only rich and big people," said Mishra.
On demonetisation, Mishra said that government sees black money only in the savings of common man who have saved little from their hard-earned income while letting off and writing off loans of big businessmen.
Hitting out at Parrikar, Mishra said that "Parrikar is now sitting so high that from there the coconut tree looks like grass for him. He has not fulfilled even one promise he had made during the last election."
"People from Goa are leaving the state in search of employment and that is why government must create jobs by developing tourism-related activities, improving transport system and then people will do business in Goa itself and will provide jobs for others," he said, urging people to vote for AAP for change and development.
Curchorem constituency candidate James Fernandes promised that if elected he would make mining bypass a reality.
Stories of Goan migration: The trails, travails and triumphs
PANAJI:MMNN:30 Nov. 2016
Mapusa-born, Manuel Antonio de Sousa founded a dynasty in Portuguese Mozambique.
Goans had colonized an area bigger than Panaji in Karachi. The Karachi Goans also set up India Life Assurance Company (ILACO) in Karachi, which flourished and had branches in Mumbai and Kolkata.
These and other lesser known facets of migration, achievements and socio-economic aspects of the fascinating subject of Goan diaspora emerged aplenty at the 29th local history seminar jointly organized by directorate of archives and archaeology and Goa University's history department, at Reis Magos fort, Verem, on Tuesday.
Delivering the keynote address, Celsa Pinto, historian and author was referring to Souza, a successful merchant and military captain in Portuguese Mozambique. He had his own private army in the late 1800s in Africa.
Pinto said that Goan migration is a vast subject with immense scope for research. "Migration of Goans, especially to Karnataka and other regions prior to 19th century is yet to be researched in greater detail," she lamented.
Referring to a study on migration being done by Fr Visitacao Monteiro, a Diocesan priest, she said that three major phases of migration were in 1294, 1522 and 1560.
A comprehensive study both ways, how Goans impacted the places they settled in and how Goa was affected due to their emigration is necessary, she said.
The archives department and central library are treasure troves of primary sources. "But foreign researchers are seen here more and it is crying for attention from local ones," she bemoaned.
Agnelo P Fernandes spoke about the causes of Goan immigration and naturalization in alien lands. "They migrated fearing conversions and the Inquisition," he said. But locals also exited Goa during the Adil Shahi rule and after also facing the brunt of Maratha attacks in Salcete and Bardez.
Remy Dias, traced the socio-economic status of Goans in British-controlled India. They preferred to suffer earning low wages in Bombay rather than longer periods of unemployment in Goa, he said.
Sushila Sawant Mendes dealt with a case study of Assolna village, while Fr Joseph Velinkar spoke about migration from Salcete to Mangalore. "It was a dangerous journey by boat and took 10 days. The overland route was even more dangerous," he said.
DSK Benelli sales touch 151 bikes in Goa
MMNN:30 Nov. 2016
Italian bike DSK Benelli is having a super run in Goa. Within one year of its launch in the state a total of 151 bikes have been sold, said Shirish Kulkarni, chairman, DSK Motowheels, on Tuesday.
Speaking at the launch event of a new model- DSK Benelli TNT 25 in FC Goa colours, Kulkarni said that Goa holds the record for the most sales done within one year vis-a-vis other cities in India.
He attributed the success of the superbike to passion for biking among residents. "The intense passion for football and biking among the people of Goa is no secret so the company is decided to celebrate the milestone of the fastest sale of 151 superbikes in the city, by blending both these passions," said Kulkarni.
During the launch event the keys of the 151st bike were handed over to its proud owner in the presence of footballers from the Indian Super League. Team members of FC Goa, Gregory Arnolin Lucio, Robin Singh and Mandar Rao Desai were present at the event.
DSK Motowheels is the supplier of Benelli bikes in India. Established in 2012, the company is is a part of the DSK Group which has forayed into the growing automobile sector by entering the niche segment of powerful and aspirational bikes.
With a CKD plant in Maharashtra, the Benelli brand enjoys the status of having the strongest and the most well entrenched superbike network in India, said Kulkarni.
DSK Motowheels is known for its high-end biking experience, extended product line, technology and quality. It also prides itself in providing the best customer centric service and after sales support in Indian superbike market.
AAP Announces Four More Candidates for Goa Polls
PANAJI:MMNN:23 Nov. 2016
Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday announced four more candidates for upcoming Assembly elections in Goa, taking the number of contestants to 25.
The list announced today includes names of anti-Mopa airport activist Siddharth Karapurkar who will contest from Navelim constituency, currently represented by BJP-backed Independent MLA Avertano Furtado.
Another AAP candidate is former Quepem municipal council chairperson Manuel Colaco who will be fielded from Quepem seat, currently held by Chandrakant Kavlekar of Congress.
Journalist-turned-politician Pradeep Padgaonar will be in the fray as AAP nominee from Saligao constituency which is represented by incumbent Tourism Minister and BJP leader Dilip Parulekar.
Also on the party's list is social activist Prakash Naik who will contest from Cumbharjua constituency, currently held
by Congress' Pandurang Madkaikar. AAP had announced to contest all 40 seats in the coastal state, where elections are due next year.
Goa bans recruitment process for govt departments
MMNN:23 Nov. 2016
With an eye on the upcoming assembly elections, the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on Tuesday banned all recruitment processes for posts in various government departments and grant-in-aid institution from Wednesday. The state government was in the process of recruiting over 1,200 personnel.
As per an official memorandum, "The recruitment process currently in progress shall be kept on hold forthwith by the department concerned and they shall not proceed to conduct written test, viva voce, oral interview where applications have been invited."
These instructions are applicable to all types of recruitments including regular, temporary, daily wage and contract labour, additional secretary Yatin Maralkar said.
The government decision, though, will not be applicable for recruitment processes initiated by Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) and contractual basis appointments of six-month tenure and for further extension of contract.
While the government might have taken the decision to ban recruitment to government posts on Tuesday, the BJP legislature wing, in a meeting held last week, had already taken the decision with BJP MLAs including Nilesh Cabral, Pramod Sawant and Subhash Phal Desai demanding an immediately ban on government recruitment.
Election Commission Asks Goa Poll Officer Not To Provide Indelible Ink To Banks
PANAJI:MMNN:19 Nov. 2016
The Election Commission (EC) has asked the Goa Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) not to provide indelible ink to banks to avoid any confusion in the poll- bound State.
"We have got clear directions from the EC not to make available indelible ink to banks," CEO Kunal told reporters in Panaji.
Kunal said the EC has decided to keep a close watch on supply of the ink in Goa, where Assembly election schedule is yet to be announced.
The IAS officer said life of the ink, supplied by a Mysore -based firm, is restricted to two-three weeks only.
"But to avoid any confusion during elections, we will monitor the supply and usage of ink once the poll code comes into force."
The RBI has said a small mark of indelible ink -- used during polls to prevent multiple voting -- will be applied on the right hand index finger of customers exchanging defunct Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes for valid bills at banks.
The central bank took the measure to stop repeat money exchangers thronging banks with invalid currency notes and reduce the rush of customers.
The EC gets stock of indelible ink at the time of elections.
Goa, Hawaii to soon have Sister-State relationship: US lawmaker Gabbard
MMNN:19 Nov. 2016
The American State of Hawaii would soon have a formal Sister-State relationship with Goa, a US lawmaker has said.
"I am proud that we would soon be formalizing a recently established Sister State partnership between the State of Hawaii, my home State and the State of Goa. We would have the announcement soon," Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Hawaii in the US House of Representative, said in her address to the World Hindu Economic Forum here.
"We look forward to have a contingent coming to Hawaii from Goa and sending a contingent from Hawaii going to Goa to see what further opportunities there are to build more bridges between our two States and the two countries," said Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker to be elected to the US Congress.
In the next Congress, she would be joined by three other Hindu lawmakers - Pramila Jayapal from Washington State, Ro Khanna from California and Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois.
Mauritius PM inaugurates AYUR Herbarium project in Goa
PANAJI:MMNN:16 Nov. 2016
Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius Anirood Jugnauth on Wednesday inaugurated AYUR Herbarium project in North Goa, an initiative by the pharmaceutical major in association with Union AYUSH Ministry.
Jugnauth inaugurated the project at the property of Sandu Pharmaceuticals Ltd at Saligao village, 10 kms away from Panaji.
The Mauritian Prime Minister along with his delegation is on a tour of India to reciprocate the cordial invitation of delegates of Goa government, who visited the island country in the recent past, a government spokesperson said.
"The Goa government and Government of Mauritius are actively collaborating on various projects related to healthcare, Ayurveda, medical tourism and tourism. It is an interesting fact that apart from our cultural similarities, both countries have similitude in the wealth of medicinal flora and fauna," the official said.
The project was part of this bonding, he added. Union AYUSH Minister Sripad Naik was also present on the occasion. The visit of Jugnauth will provide yet another dimension for both the countries to strengthen their special brotherly ties between the two countries, he said.
Goa's deputy chief minister and Health minister of Goa Francis D'Souza, directors of Sandu Pharmaceuticals Ltd Shashank Sandu and Umesh Sandu were also present on the occasion.
The medicinal herbarium is a fascinating collection of various Ayurvedic medicinal plants exhibited with informative details of medicinal properties and uses of each herb.
Villagers in Goa fight to keep ancient community land from university
MMNN:16 Nov. 2016
For Meena Varik, a teacher in Loliem village in southern Goa, the Bhagwati Moll plateau has always been community land meant for cattle grazing, temple processions and a wildlife reserve.
But if the state has its way, the plateau on a hillock abutting the village could be the site for an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the land given over to classrooms, laboratories and hostels for hundreds of students and faculty members.
"We are not against development, but this land is sacred to us and our way of life," Varik said, pointing to the trees and thick scrub that cover the plateau.
"The village owns this land. No one has the right to take it away without our consent."
The plateau, easily accessed by several trails from Loliem, is the latest of Goa's historic comunidades, or community lands, to be caught up in a dispute as demand for land for industrial and development projects grows in India.
About 70 percent of Goa's land is collectively owned by more than 200 comunidades across the state, administered by a traditional code that is centuries old.
Over the years, comunidade lands have been given up for roads, mines, industries and hotels. Many have been contentious decisions, creating deep divides across the state that is popular with tourists for its sandy beaches and laid back vibe.
"These are common lands that have always been meant for the welfare of the whole village, not one single individual or entity," said Andre Antonio Pereira, advocate and secretary of an association of comunidades.
"But we have slowly been losing these lands in the name of development. If we don't protect them, we will lose a part of our history," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The majority of land conflicts in India are related to common lands, including Goa's comunidades, with disputes centred around their governance, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Communities are dependent on common lands for farming, fishing, livestock rearing, salt manufacturing, and grazing.
While private lands have some protection, governments rarely respect the customary usage or communities' claims over common lands, the report said.
Goa urged to expedite aid for early completion of Rly. projects
PANAJI:MMNN:12 Nov. 2016
Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has urged Goa Chief Minister and State officials to expedite assistance to Railways for early completion of on-going projects in the State.
Mr. Prabhu and Chief Minister Lakshmikant Parsekar presided over a coordination meeting on Monday at the State Secretariat between officials of Goa government and South Western Railway (SWR) and Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) where progress of railway projects in Goa was reviewed.
The projects of track doubling from Madgaon to Kulem, road overbridge at LC nos. 17, 19 and 25 are the ongoing projects of South Western Railways in Goa. Apart from this, five road overbridges have to be constructed on the Konkan Railway line in Goa.
The Minister also sought early assistance for acquisition of land required for doubling and road overbridges. The Chief Minister instructed the State officials accordingly.
General Manager of South Western Railway A.K. Gupta, Goa Chief Secretary R.K. Srivastava and Chairman and Managing Director of KRCL Sanjay Gupta attended the meeting.
A 50-km stretch falling between Kulem and Madgaon under the doubling project between Hosapete-Hubballi-Londa-Vasco-da-gama is one of the projects that would enhance line capacity greatly.
Track doubling work is to start initially on the 35 km Kulem-Madgaon stretch in Goa. At present, due to constraints in the Castlerock-Kulem ghat section, the single line is saturated.
Once line capacity is enhanced by doubling, more passenger and freight trains can be run which will not only increase revenue but also improve connectivity between Goa and the northern region of Karnataka.
This will also result in improving economies of both States.
The project, among others, is expected to enhance traffic to ports in Goa and in movement of goods between the two States.
Inaugural bird festival of Goa at Bondla grabs eyeballs
PANAJI:MMNN:12 Nov. 2016
The little spiderhunter and the blue fly catcher were among the many feathered beauties that delegates, at the first edition of the first bird festival of Goa, got to sight on Friday, at the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary.
With a significant spread of the Western Ghats falling within the jurisdiction of the state, visitors from far and wide immersed themselves in watching birds, animals, butterflies and other natural wonders that are endemic to the area.
Mumbai-based Hemlata Sagare was mesmerized by what she saw and said she wouldn't miss the festival at any cost. "Goa has over 400 bird species and the festival has promised us the sighting of at least 200 of them. I have sighted a total of 30 species in two hours' time," she said, as she ticked another box on her birdwatching checklist.
The festival also provided locals a brilliant opportunity to experience Goa's natural wealth. "This is a great chance to spend three days and nights in the forest. I was able to get pictures of various moths and even heard the cry of night birds," said Vasco-based Marvelyn Dias.
Speaking about the festival, minister for forest and environment, Rajendra Arlekar said, "Goa has a treasure of rich bio-diversity, which has been showcased through the bird festival. We need to take the tourists to the hinterlands, instead of restricting them only to the beaches."
The second day of the festival commemorates the birth anniversary (November 12) of eminent ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali, in whose honour, the Chorao-based sanctuary is named.
Progressive forces to unite at Goa meet
PANAJI:MMNN:9 Nov. 2016
The 'Dakshinayan Abhiyan', a movement that sprung up last year through a collective desire to forge solidarity between all progressive forces, will hold a national convention in Goa from November 18 to 20.
Describing Goa as the most suitable place for the convention because of its immense cultural diversity and peaceful coexistence of diverse communites, renowned writer and national convener Ganesh Devy said, "It is a struggle for the freedom of creative expression that foregrounds tolerance and dialogue."
"We expect over 900 delegates, 600 of which would be from different parts of the country, and will include writers, journalists, filmmakers and others," said writer Datta D. Naik.
The convention will begin at Margao in South Goa on November 18 with a ' Sankalp Yatra ', a procession which will culminate at the historic Lohia Maidan at 6 p.m. This will be followed by a public meeting addressed by Hamid Dabholkar, Medha Pansare, Shrivijay Kalburgi, K. Sadchidanand, Dhanaji Gurav, Uttam Parmar, K. Neela and Manan Kumar Mandal.
The inaugural session on November 19 will have speeches by Ganesh Devy, Leela Samson and Bezwada Wilson. A symposium on 'Have Indian Intellectuals failed India?' will be presided over by Fr. Victor Ferrao.
In the afternoon, there will be a symposium called 'Dichotomy between Development & Environment' featuring Claude Alvares and Dattaprasad Dabholkar, among others. In the evening, there will be a talk on 'Kashmir: Beyond Bullets'. A multilingual poetry session will be presided over by Vasant Abaji Dahakt.
The concluding day will have a session on 'Superstitions & Social consciousness in Indian Folklore. The day will also see a session on 'Media: Freedom & promiscuity', and a talk by Yogendra Yadav on 'India at Crossroads', followed by a discussion in which Raosaheb Kasabe will take part.
Anand Karandikar, Harsha Badkar and others will participate in the concluding session 'Action plan to fight communalism'.
Ensure equal status to women in Goa, Islamic scholar tells BJP-led NDA govt.
MMNN:9 Nov. 2016
If the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is truly concerned about equality of women, then it should ensure equal status to women in Goa where its party is in power, Islamic research scholar Hazrat Sayyad Fazlullah Sabri Chisti has said.
Addressing a press conference as part of his nationwide programme to create awareness about the Shariat vis-a-vis the Union government's affidavit in the Supreme Court rejecting the validity of triple talaq and polygamy here on Tuesday, he said that the law in Goa granted right to a Hindu man to remarry if he doesn't beget a male child from his wife, till the age of 30. This law is just the tip of the sanctioned sexism across India. But, Muslim men whose marriages were registered in Goa could not practise polygamy.
He questioned the double standards of the Union government while pointing out at Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu's appeal against politicising the Centre's affidavit. He said that the affidavit was aimed at bringing in Uniform Civil Code as promised in the BJP election manifesto - a promise which the party in power wants to fulfil in view of the forthcoming election to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
Replying to questions, he said that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board was open for a debate on the issue of polygamy and triple talaq. When pointed out that Muslim men enjoyed the right to give talaq but not women, who, however, needed to acquire it, he said that it was for the bride to seek the right before accepting the marriage proposal. Yet, he would appeal to every prospective bridegroom to share equally the right to pronounce talaq with his prospective wife, and the Qazi.
Dr. Chisti said that Muslims were opposing Uniform Civil Code as it was in contradiction to Article 25 of the Constitution. "All our arguments and views are within the framework of the Constitution, while the elements of Uniform Civil Code were under Article 44 of the Directive Principles of State Policy," he said.
US FDA clears Lupin's Goa manufacturing facility
PANAJI:MMNN:5 Nov. 2016
The US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has cleared Lupin Ltd's Goa manufacturing plant of violations of good manufacturing practices (cGMP) observed during an inspection in March 2016.
The development comes as a major relief to the company, India's third largest pharmaceutical firm, as its Goa unit accounts for about 30-40% of its sales in the US. The facility manufactures a range of finished products, including oral solids and injectables.
The company has received an Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) from the US drug regulator for its Goa unit, indicating closure of all US FDA inspections at the facility, Lupin said in an exchange filing.
"We are committed to ensuring that all systems and processes followed by Lupin are compliant with cGMP and are committed to bring in quality products to market. It is our goal to remain well ahead on the compliance curve," managing director Nilesh Gupta was quoted as saying in the filing.
The US drug regulator issues an EIR upon successful completion of site inspection.
During the inspection in March, the US FDA had made nine observations relating to deviations from cGMP at the Goa facility.
"The receipt of EIR is a positive development for Lupin. It indicates that the US FDA found the company's remedial measures in order. The tentative product approvals, which were pending due to regulatory issues at Goa plant, will now get final approval," Ranjit Kapadia, senior vice president at Centrum Broking, said.
The US is the biggest market for the company, accounting for 43% of the total sales of Rs13,702 crore in 2015-16.
State of Small States 2016: Goa is the best, Puducherry most improved
PANAJI:MMNN:5 Nov. 2016
Goa's strides in development have made it the star among small states and given it an identity as Destination Next. Take healthcare for example. This year, Goa didn't report any case of mosquito-borne diseases, such as chikungunya or dengue.
The state's emergency medical response number 108 has been geared up to respond to calls in no more than 15 minutes. Allocating more than 15 per cent of the annual budget to the power sector has paid off.
Goa is now totally electrified. The state has the highest number of mobile phone users and television viewers among the small states. In the social sector, Goa has performed better than most states, spending a third of its budget-Rs 2,175 crore-on welfare schemes, such as Ladli Laxmi, under which parents get Rs 1 lakh transferred to their bank accounts on the birth of a girl child.
Scholarships for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have benefitted some two lakh students. The state has been adding to its tourism infrastructure; this year, 6,558 km were added to the road network and some 500 hotels and lodges built.
Government buildings are being made eco-friendly. "Work of Mopa international airport will begin in November. A corridor to transport iron ore in the Quepem-Sanguem mining belt is our next goal," says CM Laxmikant Parsekar.
Sports Authority of Goa de-recognizes dormant associations
PANAJI:MMNN:2 Nov. 2016
The Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) governing council has given the nod for de-recognition of dormant state sports associations.
The governing council which met last week debated on several associations who have failed to conduct any sporting activity of note for years and decided that such associations should be de-recognized to make way for others.
The Goa Wrestling Association, Goa State Body Building Association, Goa Women's Cricket Association, Goa Hockey Association/Hockey Goa/Goa Women's Hockey Association and Goa Amateur Karate-do Association have all been de-recognized for their failure to remain active.
"The associations failed to submit any activity report, audited accounts, general body minutes, reports of elections held, and to be held, for the past several years. This action will serve as a deterrent to other sports associations to follow SAG guidelines," said the official.
The SAG's decision means hockey will now be governed by Goans Hockey alone, while there remains a huge question mark over body building.
"We have two body building associations who are jostling for control of the sport. We will provide the recognition to whichever federation is affiliated to the sports ministry," said the official.
Karate was earlier governed by two associations but with Goa Amateur Karate-do Association now de-recognized, the battle for control will start all over again.
Wrestling in Goa will now be governed by Progressive Wrestling Association of Goa - granted permanent recognition by the SAG - while women's cricket has been taken over by the Goa Cricket Association.
Besides de-recognizing associations, the governing council decided to provide permanent recognition to the following associations: Billiards and Snooker Association of Goa, Goa Gymnastic Association, Goa Motorsports Association, Progressive Wrestling Association of Goa, Amateur Rope Skipping Association (Goa), Goa Fencing Association, Goa Super Bodies Powerlifting Association and Sqay Association of Goa.
Meanwhile, sports associations have successfully pleaded with sports minister Ramesh Tawadkar to keep in abeyance an important proposal to change the funding pattern to sports associations in the state.
The SAG is at its most liberal when providing funds for state sports associations to participate in zonal and National championships. The SAG provides hundred per cent grants to all recognized sports associations - 80 per cent before the championship and 20 per cent after submission of bills - but wanted to change its policy and provide only 80 per cent grants.
"The sports associations should bear the balance 20 per cent through sponsorships, or generate revenue through their own resources. This would force the associations to show some interest, collect funds and not remain complacent," the SAG had said in its agenda notes.
Influential associations, however, managed to convince Tawadkar that the new pattern will harm their interest.
"The minister wanted at least 10 per cent to be paid by the associations but there was not much support from the members, majority of whom are associations," said the official.
AAP Goa announces six more candidates
PANAJI:MMNN:2 Nov. 2016
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday declared its fourth list of six candidates for the 2017 assembly elections, including a teacher, real estate developer, ex-sarpanch, former police constable, ex vice-president youth Congress president and former MGP candidate for in the constituencies of Fatorda, Tivim, Aldona, Curchorem, Sakhali and Canacona. In total, the party has declared 21 candidates till date.
Forty-eight-year-old businessman and real estate developer Ranjt Cotta-Carvalho, who joined the party seven months ago and worked at the grassroot level, will contest from Fatorda constituency. His mother, Inez Cotta-Carvalho, was president of the south Goa Congress in the past.
Pradeep Amonkar, 52, who has fought two elections in the past on an MGP ticket, will contest from Tivim constituency. He is also a part of the party's state campaign committee.
Ursula D'Souza, a 49-year-old panch member and ex-sarpanch from Aldona, who has been active with AAP for the past one year, will contest from Aldona. She is also a member of the party's state campaign committee.
In Curchorem, 51-year-old MBA graduate and teacher, James Maxie Fernandes, who has been AAP's coordinator in the constituency for the past eight months will contest the 2017 elections. He is an RTI activist, playwright and personality development trainer by profession. He currently holds the post of the state secretary for the Bharat Scouts & Guides.
Milind Gauns, a 41-year-old BCom graduate, who was politically active in the Congress party as an ex-youth Congress president (Pale Constituency) and has also held posts of ex-vice president of youth Congress (Goa State), ex-vice president youth Congress (North Goa district). He is the former president of the Devastan of Naveli and actively participates in activities of sports clubs, Natya mandals, etc. He will contest from the Sakhali constituency.
40-year-old arts graduate, who has worked with Goa Police for 11 years, Sandesh Telekar, will contest in the Canacona constituency,. Presently, a businessman in Canacona, he was instrumental in getting government officials arrested for accepting bribes and has been associated with the AAP for the past three years, working to resolve issues of people from Canacona.
The party's national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is expected to visit the state on November 13. Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia will also be visiting the state.
1,500 names to go from Goa voter list
PANAJI:MMNN:26 Oct. 2016
The chief electoral officer (CEO), Goa, is set to delete 1,500 names from the electoral rolls after obtaining the list of names of those who have acquired Portuguese nationality from the Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO).
A senior official at the office of the CEO Goa told TOI, "All names received from the FRRO will be sent to district collectors for verification before they are deleted from the electoral roll," and added that those whose names figure on the list will be summoned to the collectorate for verification so as to avoid wrong deletion of names as sometimes there are more than one persons with the same name in a village.
The new electoral roll for the assembly elections 2017 is likely to be completed by January 5, 2017. Elections are scheduled for March 2017.
CEO Goa had asked the FRRO to submit the list of names of those who had acquired Portuguese nationally in August. So far, the CEO Goa has deleted 24,000 names of those holding foreign nationality, mostly from South Goa, from the electoral roll.
The Election Commission of India directed the CEO Goa to delete names of those individuals who had surrendered their Indian citizenship and acquired foreign nationality after following the prescribed process.
Goa has 10,85,271 voters, which includes 35 overseas citizens and excludes 811 service voters. A senior officer said that they have received around 24,522 applications in North Goa and 22,178 in South Goa for addition of names to the voters' list.
Similarly, the CEO Goa has received around 7,063 applications for deletion of names from the voters' list in North Goa and 8,230 names in South Goa, which also includes people who moved base, expired or have been absent for a considerable period of time.
"We will verify those applications before taking a final call," a senior officer said, and added that the summary revision of the electoral roll has commenced from September 15.
Pakistani delegation won't be part of Goa Arts and Lit Fest
MMNN:26 Oct. 2016
Following the demand to impose a ban on Pakistan artistes from working in the Hindi film industry, Pakistani writers are now at the receiving end. Repercussions of the India-Pakistan relations which strained after the surgical strike have had a ripple effect on the Goa arts and literary festival (GALF) as well.
Pakistani writers and artists will not feature at GALF 2016, which is scheduled to be held from December 8-11 in Goa, informed the curators of the festival.
"It is a matter of great regret that we won't be having Pakistani representation at our festival this year. Some of Pakistan's great writers want to be a part of this festival yet they cannot. We will miss them," said Vivek Menezes, co-founder and curator of the festival.
Each year, the organizers of GALF we have reached across borders and invited Pakistan and Bangladesh. Owing to the sensitive situation regarding Pakistani artistes working in India, this year it is not possible due to government orders issued and no visas being granted to Pakistanis to travel to India.
However this will not stop other writers from discussing the issue at the three-day festival, informed curator, Damodar Mauzo. "We will not compromise with freedom of expression," he said.
GALF is very popular among the writers and artists of Pakistan, many of whom make it to the event year after year. Pakistani journalist of Goan origin, Cyril Almeida was also a popular face at the festival.
1,000 charters coming to Goa this tourist season
PANAJI:MMNN:22 Oct. 2016
Tourist footfalls are likely to be high this season with slots for 1,000 charters being booked at the Goa International airport.
Additionally, arrival of charters from various destinations in Russia will be more than 50% of the total charters scheduled to arrive in Goa, this season.
The last two tourist seasons proved sluggish, witnessing as it did a sizeable decline in arrival of charters from Russia after the country's economy took a hit. Airport director B C H Negi confirmed booking of 1,000 charters for the season, an increase of 202 from the last season. For the 2015-16 tourist season, Goa received 798 charters bringing in 1,58,779 charter tourists.
While a rise in UK arrivals is also anticipated, no charters are expected from new destinations. Negi said slots include the regular destinations from where charters have been coming these last few years.
Besides UK and Russia, Goa also receives charter flights from Finland, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. These three to four years have seen charter flights arriving from Iran, but the numbers are small.
Stakeholders are jubilant over the anticipated increase in charter arrivals, but some rue the delay in setting up of beach shacks, which traditionally have been a major attraction among foreign tourists .
President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Savio Messias told TOI that infrastructure should have been in place before the season kick-started. "Beach shacks are not ready due to non-release of the beach shack policy. Also nobody knows the status of private shacks," said Messias and added that even excursions to Doodhsagar have not started as repair work on the connecting road is not complete.
"What will foreign tourists do during their stay in Goa?" he asked.
While the tourism department on Thursday invited applications to set up 367 shacks, the new beach shack policy is yet to be released, which will happen only after it has been approved by the Goa State Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and state government.
Goa joins Kochi, Navi Mumbai in 2017 Fifa U-17 World Cup venue list
MMNN:22 Oct. 2016
Goa on Saturday joined Kochi and Navi Mumbai as one of the venues to host next year's Fifa U-17 World Cup after it received the green signal from a high-level delegation of football's world body.
A 13-member Fifa delegation along with the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on Saturday made an inspection to ascertain the readiness of Goa to host matches and training sessions at the Fifa U-17 World Cup in 2017.
Following the visit, LOC and Fifa experts expressed their satisfaction with the work which has been put in at the venue and ratified Goa as the third venue to host the event after Kochi and Navi Mumbai.
Tournament director Javier Ceppi, who has overseen the progression of preparations at the venue, said: "Goa hosted the AFC U-16 Championship, which helped it get into very high infrastructure compliance levels and gives us enough confidence to ratify it as a venue for the Fifa U-17 World Cup India 2017.
"Now it is the moment to start focusing on all operational aspects to ensure a flawless delivery of the Event."
Also present at the event were Ramesh Tawadkar, Minister - Sports, Government of Goa, VM Prabhudesai - Executive Director - Sports Authority of Goa, Shrinivas Dempo, Vice President, AIFF, Joy Bhattacharjya - Project Director LOC and Tracy Lu - Project Lead Fifa U-17 World Cup India 2017.
Describing the preparations at the venue, Lu said, "We last inspected the venue in February and I am delighted to see the progress on all fronts over the last six months.
"The venue in fact has already been tested through the AFC U16 Championships and from what the reports suggest, they did a great job.
"That adds to Goa credence and thus the venue certainly deserves to be a venue for the India's first Fifa World Cup."
With Goa's culture and love for the beautiful game, Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar was ecstatic at the prospect of the State hosting its first ever World Cup.
"Goa just hosted the AFC U16 tournament, where the four Asian qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup were decided, needless to say we are extremely proud to be given this opportunity to host the tournament; it will most certainly be the next feather in our cap," he said.
The team also visited the training sites proposed for the next year's event - Tilak Maidan Stadium, Cana Benaulim Ground, Bambolin Stadium and Utorda Ground.
The delegation will now travel to New Delhi on Sunday to inspect the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
India used BRICS-BIMSTEC summit to outmanoeuvre Pakistan, Chinese media says
PANAJI:MMNN:19 Oct. 2016
India "in effect consigned Pakistan to be a regional pariah " and used Brics "to outmanoeuvre" its neighbour , by inviting all countries in the region - except Pakistan - to a conference parallel to the Brics summit in Goa , said a surprising article in the state-run Chinese press today.
The opinion piece by a Chinese scholar - in the state-run media - is surprising because it seems to indicate Beijing thinks the summit was a win for India, despite its having blocked New Delhi's attempts to name Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Muhammad in the Summit declaration.
The parallel Goa summit was the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or Bimstec, which India planned in tandem with the Brics summit.
"Given the uneasy background of Indo-Pakistani tension , which escalated last month, India's inclusion of Bimstec bore even thicker geostrategic connotations. As India invited all countries in the region except Pakistan, it in effect consigned Pakistan to be a regional pariah," said an opinion piece in the Global Times.
The article said that after India and various countries pulled out of the November Saarc summit just weeks before the Brics meet, holding a Bimstec meet "presented India a rare opportunity to get rid of any constraints Islamabad may have over the regional group, as the same group would soon gather in Goa in the absence of Pakistan."
That's the "outmanoeuvring" part the article's title refers to. To be sure, India pulled out of Saarc only after the cross-border terror strike in Uri in Kashmir that killed 19 Indian soldiers.
"By bringing regional countries - Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan - together with the major emerging economies of the Brics, India breathed legitimacy and substance into an otherwise hallow and moribund acronym organization. While the rest of the BRICS members would never openly endorse either side in the Indo-Pakistan tension, India in a way secured its stance vis-a-vis Pakistan by taking advantages of its agenda-setting powers for the summits," the Global Times article said.
The article did add, though, that it didn't see Bimstec as being a more effective alternative to SAARC, because "a subcontinent grouping without Pakistan balancing and checking a dominant India may well raise suspicions and fear for smaller countries.
Other reasons India managed to "consign Pakistan to be a regional pariah" included the fact that India's economy is currently more robust than that of any other Brics country , so it could, to some extent, dictate the agenda of the summit. As well, India was the host, giving it another strategic advantage.
For India, this BRICS summit also was "a wonderful platform to coordinate efforts in reforming current global economic and finance governance", the article said. It was referring to the summit having given India leverage in demanding reforms like the ceding of two chairs on the executive board of the International Monetary Fund.
Banks to Auction Vijay Mallya's Goa Villa
Panaji :MMNN:19 Oct. 2016
A State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium of banks will on Wednesday auction the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which was once owned by industrialist Vijay Mallya.
The reserve price for the Goa property has been set at Rs 85.29 crore.
The liquor baron left the country in March and is currently said to be living in Britain.
Kingfisher Villa, owned by United Breweries Holdings (UBHL), was mortgaged as collateral for loans to Kingfisher Airlines.
Kingfisher Airlines owes around Rs 9,000 crore to the consortium of 17 banks.
The villa had been opened for inspection to interested bidders on September 26-27 and October 5-6.
Two attempts this year to e-auction Kingfisher House, the airline's corporate office in Mumbai, ended in failure as no buyer approached SBICAP, which is auctioning Mallya's properties on behalf of the lenders.
Guard Sexually Abused Goa Perfumer Monika Ghurde, Choked Her With A Pillow: Police
PANAJI:MMNN:12 Oct. 2016
A security guard has confessed that he hid for two days on the terrace of perfumer Monika Ghurde's apartment complex before breaking into her home, sexually abusing and killing her, the Goa police said on Tuesday.
Ms Ghurde, 39, was found dead, tied to her bed in Goa's Sangolda village on October 5.
Three days later, 21-year-old Rajkumar Singh, who had been a security guard at the complex till July, was arrested in Bengaluru after he was caught using Ms Ghurde's ATM card.
Singh has reportedly admitted that he had been obsessed with the photographer turned perfumer since the day she came looking for an apartment.
"The accused has confessed to the crime. He has told the investigating Officer that for two days he took refuge on the terrace of the building where Monika lived before forcibly entering her flat on October 5 evening," senior police officer Vimal Gupta told reporters.
"The accused was attracted towards Monika since the day she inquired about availability of a flat in the complex and later followed her movements when she started residing there. After his duty as a security guard, he would wash cars of the residents, including that of Monika," said the officer.
More chilling details emerged during his interrogation.
After breaking into Ms Ghurde's home, Rajkumar overpowered her, held a knife to her and when she fell unconscious, tied her to her bed. He allegedly then sexually abused Ms Ghurde before strangling her and choking her with a pillow.
Taking Ms Ghurde's phone, some cash and her ATM cards, he ran away.
Rajkumar, who is from Punjab's Bhatinda, was also angry with Ms Ghurde since he lost his job at the complex after complaints from her and other residents.
Besides other complaints, Ms Ghurde's lost umbrella was found on him.
Mr Gupta said Rajkumar claimed he was also denied two months' salary - around Rs. 22,000 - by the security agency he worked for.
He allegedly pleaded with Ms Ghurde to take her complaint back. When he could not find another job, the police said, Rajkumar planned his crime.
Civil society groups to meet ahead of BRICS summit in Goa
Panaji :MMNN:12 Oct. 2016
Representatives of various social movements from BRICS countries will attend a two-day people's forum beginning in Goa tomorrow where they are likely to voice resistance against neo-liberalism.
"Hundreds of people, representing various social movements, trade unions, academia and civil society formations from BRICS countries will assemble in Goa on October 13-14 to participate in the People's Forum on BRICS and share analysis, struggle notes and build solidarity in the resistance against neo-liberalism and corporate globalisation," a press release by the organisers said here.
The people's forum will be held at Xavier Centre of Historical Research at Alto Porvorim, Goa, prior to the official BRICS summit in the state on October 15-16 in which heads of the member countries would participate.
"Goa has been an active site of struggle against neo-liberalism, women empowerment and environmental justice. Groups from Goa along with other Indian organisations will jointly host the event which will include plenaries, self-organised workshops, cultural events and films," the organisers said.
"The opening plenary will see Medha Patkar of the National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM) and several other eminent leaders of social movements welcoming the gathering," the release said.
There will be discussions on issues of imperialism, peace and security, finance, investment and trade, corporate power, food and agriculture, governance of natural resources, economy and labour, science and technology, public services, civil and human rights, among others.
"Humanity is facing a civilisational crisis and we are witnessing the impacts of developmental choices we have made over centuries. Nation-states, multilateral global and regional forums like the UN, ASEAN, SAARC, BRICS have tried to intervene and work ways out of this crisis," Patkar was quoted as saying in the press note.
"But the state centric intervention and management have in fact been responsible to large extent for the crisis in the first place. So, any new alternatives have to have people at the heart of it," she said.
The workshops will also look at alternatives built by social movements in BRICS countries as a counter to neo-liberalism.
Perfumer Monika Ghurde found dead in Goa home, body tied to bed
PANAJI:MMNN:8 Oct. 2016
The Goa Police have launched a high-level probe into the death of 39-year-old perfumer, Monika Ghurde, whose body was lying naked in her apartment, with her limbs tied to the bed.
Director General of Police Muktesh Chander, who visited the scene of crime in Tony Sangolda village, about 10 km from the state capital, told reporters on Friday that "all efforts are being made to probe the case".
As there are visible marks on her neck, police suspect the victim was strangled.
"We will be able to say for sure only after the post-mortem examination... The house also appears to have been burgled, but we don't know what all could have been robbed, because the deceased used to live there alone," Police Inspector Rajesh Kumar told reporters.
DIG V. Gupta said that police teams have already been dispatched to different states to dig out clues to the crime.
"She was estranged from her husband and living alone in Goa. She was originally from Nagpur, while her husband hails from Chennai," he said.
Police said that they were informed about the incident last night, and they have already questioned the watchman posted at the apartment complex as well as the domestic help and the complex's manager in this connection.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar On 3-Day Goa Visit From
MMNN:8 Oct. 2016
Union Defence minister Manohar Parrikar is set to arrive today for his three-day Goa visit during which he will address a public meeting on Monday in his home town of Mapusa, 9 km from Panaji.
"(Manohar) Parrikar will arrive in Goa today. He will be busy in meetings tomorrow and on Monday he will address a public meeting at Mapusa bus stand," BJP General Secretary Sadanand Tanavade told Press Trust of India.
This would be Mr Parrikar's first visit to the state after India launched surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC).
Goa BJP had a planned grand welcome for him on October 4, but had cancelled it due to the Baramulla terror strike and also owing to pressure from Opposition parties.
Mr Tanavade said Mr Parrikar will address the public meeting as part of the party's campaign ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in the coastal state.
He rubbished talk that the party on October 4 had planned Mr Parrikar's felicitation for the surgical strikes, and said a grand welcome for him was in the offing.
BJP's election campaign was kicked off by party President Amit Shah on August 20 who addressed a meeting at Dr Shama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium near Panaji.
The party has said that they are open to talks for alliance with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) during the Goa polls.
A senior BJP leader said the talks of alliance may not happen during Parrikar's visit.
"The talks are not on schedule," the BJP leader said. MGP President Dipak Dhavalikar had recently told mediamen that the talks of alliance are unlikely to begin soon, as the party was waiting for the notification declaring dates for the election.
BJP's Goa Desk Incharge Nitin Gadkari, during his recent visit, had said that the alliance with MGP will be finalised soon as both the parties (BJP-MGP) are not averse to fight the polls together.
Threat perception to BRICS summit has increased: Goa Police
PANAJI:MMNN:5 Oct. 2016
Goa Police on Tuesday said threat perception to the upcoming BRICS summit, to be held in the coastal state, has increased, following the Indian Army's surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
"After the surgical strikes, the intelligence agencies have raised alarm that they (militants) might strike back. After the surgical operation this the is first such big event of international standard due to which the scale of threat perception has increased," Deputy Inspector General of Police Vimal Gupta told reporters Panaji.
"We are prepared keeping in mind this increased threat perception," he added.
BRICS Summit is scheduled to take place in Goa on October 15-16 in which heads of all the member countries will be participating.
Gupta said the Goa police held a meeting of its staff in the state headquarters today wherein they were briefed about the security scenario.
"These officers are involved in the security arrangements for upcoming BRICS summit. Our force is undergoing security drills which are required to be conducted for the event of such a scale where heads of different countries would be participating," he said.
"There are national and international practises that we follow to provide security cover for such kind of events. They were briefed about the alertness, dress and knowledge for the duty. They were told what they should do and what they should not do," Gupta added.
"We also briefed them about the threat perception and how they should act in any circumstance. We have informed them about the latest threats and what kind of threats they are," he added.
During the event, the official said there will be two level of deployment.
"One outside the venue which will be in uniform and another inside the venue in plain clothes," the DIG informed.
Ready to host National Games in September 2017: Goa Sports Minister
MMNN:5 Oct. 2016
After requesting to defer the dates of the National Games, the Goa government today expressed willingness to host the Games in September 2017 as the required infrastructure is getting ready.
"Initially we had requested (to Indian Olympics Association) that Goa should not be asked to host the National Games scheduled in November 2016 as we were expecting early elections (for the Goa Legislative Assembly)," State Sports Minister Ramesh Tawadkar told reporters in Vasco.
"But now the state government is ready and formal proposal has been submitted to IOA stating that the National Games can be hosted in Goa in September 2017," he added. The elections for the State Legislative Assembly are due before March 2017.
Tawadkar said various places have been identified in the state where infrastructure will be created to host National Games. He said the archery field would be in Poinguinim village.
Earlier in March this year, Tawadkar had told the State Legislative assembly that the National Games were tentatively finalised from November 5-19, 2016. He had told the Assembly that Goa has already received an amount of Rs 97.80 crore from the Centre to host the Games.
Goa Forward gets 'coconut' as poll symbol
PANAJI:MMNN:1 Oct. 2016
The Election Commission today allotted 'coconut' as the election symbol for Goa Forward party which is all set to contest the upcoming Assembly polls.
The symbol has been allotted under the provisions of para 10B of Election Symbols Order, 1968, the EC said in a communication to the Chief Electoral Officer of Goa.
Goa Forward president Prabhakar Timble said, "We have got a symbol which every Goan will be proud to identify with. It is the essence of Goa, Goans and Goan-ness."
Timble said his party has always favoured declaring coconut tree as "state tree".
"Goa is known the world over as the land of swaying palms. It is unfortunate that the BJP government has relegated it to grass and removed the protection under the Trees Act. Now, this symbol and Goa Forward will puncture BJP," he added.
Earlier this year, the state government had reclassified coconut as 'palm', triggering strong reactions from the opposition.
Nationalisation of rivers will benefit Goa: CM
MMNN:1 Oct. 2016
Coming out with the information that the state government has not signed any Memorandum of Understanding with the central government and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) as regards nationalisation of six rivers in Goa, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Friday said that he would follow his assurance given in the state legislative assembly as regards taking all the concerned stakeholders into confidence before signing the agreement.
Mandovi, Zuari, Mapusa, Chapora, Sal and Cumbharjua rivers in Goa have been selected for their nationalisation.
Terming the opposition to the nationalisation of waterways in Goa as just another pre-election stunt by the opposition parties, the Chief Minister said that following the dying out of the coconut tree and vermin issues, a new issue in the form of nationalisation of waterways in Goa has come up. "These people want the lanes of the major district roads and highways in Goa to be increased by the central government, but oppose the nationalisation of the rivers here," he retorted, adding that the particular step would only prove beneficial to Goa.
Parsekar also said that the nationalisation of waterways in Goa is only a part of such nationwide exercise taken up by the Centre. "And then the central government is not Pakistan, which will act against out interests," he quipped, maintaining that the Centre has always supported Goa for its development.
Furthermore, speaking informally to the pressmen, the Chief Minister said that the government wants to issue Sanads within a month's time to at least 200-odd people, residing under the Custodian of Evacuee Property of Mayem. "As of now, we have notified such 15 cases following provisional declaration, while related hearing of 50 cases is nearly complete," he maintained, informing that soon hearing of more 60 cases would be taken up. "I have reviewed the matter with the new North Goa Collector, a couple of days ago," Parsekar said.
The government has already completed the survey of the evacuee property, following enactment of the legislation namely Goa (Abolition of Proprietorship, Titles and Grants of Lands) Act 2014 to handle the long-pending issue.
AAP leader Oscar Rebello rules out contesting Goa polls
PANAJI:MMNN:28 Sept. 2016
AAP's prominent Goa leader Dr Oscar Rebello, who was speculated to be the party's chief ministerial face, has ruled out contesting the state Assembly elections due next year.
Rebello, a practising physician, came into limelight in 2006-07 when he, as convener of Goa Bachao Abhiyaan, had opposed the Regional plan (land use plan) through a mass agitation, following which the then Town and Country Planning Minister Atanasio Monserratte had resigned from his post.
"I would like to put the record straight that due to my profession and family commitments, I will definitely not contest the election," Rebello told reporters here yesterday, laying to rest speculation about him being the AAP's chief ministerial candidate.
He said though he will not be contesting, he will continue to devote his time to AAP and work full time for the party during the forthcoming state polls.
Hinting that AAP may not project a CM face in advance, Rebello said the party is likely to chose chief minister (if it wins the polls) from the victorious candidates.
The Goa Assembly polls are due before March 2017.
CBI Files Closure Report In British Woman's Death Case In Goa
MMNN:28 Sept. 2016
Six years after a 35-year-old British woman was found dead near Anjuna beach in Goa, the CBI has filed a closure report in the case as no evidence of assault or homicide has been found.
The 50-page closure report in the death case of Denyse Sweeney was filed yesterday by a special team of CBI which arrived in Panaji from Mumbai.
"The report has been filed before Judicial Magistrate First Class, Mapusa," Nandkumar Nair, the head of CBI's special branch in Mumbai, told Press Trust of India today.
He said forensically, the cause of death was cerebral pulmonary oedema, which means accumulation of fluid in brain and lungs.
There was no evidence of assault or homicide and also there was no eyewitness or circumstantial evidence due to which the closure report was filed, Mr Nair said.
Sweeney was on a holiday in Goa when she was found dead on April 16, 2010 near the toilet of a night club in Anjuna beach area.
Local police had cited drug overdose as the reason behind the death, but later registered a case of murder after Sweeney's family suspected foul play.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had taken over the probe into the case in January.
The development in Sweeney case came days after Goa Children's Court in Panaji acquitted two men accused of drugging, sexually abusing and leaving to die British teenager Scarlett Eden Keeling at Anjuna beach in February 2008.
Bad road engineering among main causes of accidents in Goa
PANAJI:MMNN:24 Sept. 2016
Road engineering continues to be one of the common causes of accidents in Goa. In the year 2015 alone, defects in road conditions led to the death of 2,733 persons in the country. This has been revealed in a study done by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH).
With the kind of roads Goa has, the problems vary from place to place. These include bad roads and improper asphalting to lack of central divider and no speed bump markings, says DySP traffic North Goa, Dharmesh Angle.
"These defects are seen in almost the entire state. As and when the problems come to our attention, we bring it to the notice of the public works department," he said.
The Goa civic and consumer action network (GOACAN) has time and again brought issues of road engineering to the attention of the department of transport and the PWD. The road engineering cell at the PWD has identified 58 accident- prone zones in Goa.
"A common road defect in Goa is the placement of junctions which can have blind spots. A number of accidents occur when people take a turn at the T-junction or the four-arm junction. There are 400-odd blind spots that have been identified resultantly," GOACAN convener, Roland Martins, said.
The MoRTH report revealed that in 2015, there were 104 accidents at various T-junctions and 53 accidents at four-arm junctions across Goa.
Fifty-one accidents took place due to speedbreakers in the state. Thus bringing to light, the issue of illegal speed breakers installed by locals in the state. These are not painted with white lines thus being invisible to riders from afar.
"The illegal speedbreakers have not been installed by the PWD. After the BRICS summit ends, the road engineering cell will pay a visit to the sites and send the information to PWD to take further measures," a transport official.
Goan iron ore miners to re-start mining in full swing post monsoon
MMNN:24 Sept. 2016
Amid expectations of over 50 per cent increase in the cap of quantity allocation, iron ore miners in Goa are set to resume post-monsoon operations by the first week of October.
Normally, around 95 iron ore miners in Goa shut down their operations during the monsoon season due to water logging in the minesite and resume operations after the rainy season. But, miners are more enthusiastic this year on hopes for an increase in the cap of mineral excavation under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
While the apex court has already approved a 50 per cent increase in the cap of the quantity allocated to the miners in Goa, the apex court is set to take a final decision on September 27 in this regard.
"We are all set to resume mining in full earnest after the monsoon gets over," said Shivanand V Salgaocar, president, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA) and managing director of V M Salvaoncar & Brothers.
After two years of ban based on Shah Committee report over illegal mining, the supreme court had in August 2014 permitted iron ore mining in Goa with a cap of 20 million tonnes.
Since then, Vedanda's Sesa Iron Ore, an Anil Agarwal Group company, started mining with 5.5 million tonnes of quantity allocation on it and achieved annual production between 1.5-2 million tonnes annually.
"Miners are ready with their plans to re-start post monsoon activities of iron ore excavation. They are waiting for the final order of the apex court, scheduled on September 27, to re-start mining. The Expert Committee set up by the supreme court had given a recommendation to raise cap on the quantity of iron ore excavation at over 30 million tonnes.
So, ad-hoc cap was decided at over 30 million tonnes. The apex court, however, is set to take a final decision on this cap on September 27," said a senior official with the Directorate of Mineral and Geology (DMG), Government of Goa.
Apart from Sesa, a couple of other miners also started mining. But, most mid- and small - size abstained from fresh mining of iron ore due to extremely bearish price and weak demand from its perennial buyer - China.
Sesa, according to trade sources, had sought increase in the quantity allocated to it with argument that the quantity allocated to miners who could not started mining for various reasons, should be allocated to it. Sesa's proposal, however, was rejected.
"Iron ore prices are low today. But, we don't have any option. We need to start mining," said a private miner.
On an annual basis, the state of Goa produced 40-42 million tonnes of iron ore during peak days, ie about 6-7 years ago. So the upper cap can go upto 40-42 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, DMG has put 7.36 million tonnes of low grade iron ore for auction which, according to trade sources, remained unsold in previous auctions. Like in the past, steel companies are unlikely to participate in the auction.
Power Grid Corporation's Bhajekar relieved as Chief Electrical Engineer Goa
PANAJI:MMNN:21 Sept. 2016
Laxmikant D Kolvekar has taken over charge as Chief Electrical Engineer (CEE) of the Goa Electricity Department after Dipak Bhajekar was relieved from his post this month.
Kolvekar who was promoted from Superintending Engineer South to Additional Chief Engineer on September 2 was handed over charge as CEE on September 14.
He has held charge of the CEE on officiating basis for two months in August and September last year.
Bhajekar who then held the post of additional general manager, WRTS-II at the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, Gurgao was appointed to the post of CEE in Goa on September 14, 2015 by transfer on deputation for a period of two years (till 2017) after the department had no qualified person to fill the post.
While serving as CEE he received a promotion from the post of additional general manager in E-7A grade to the post of General Manager E-8 grade at the Power Grid Corporation of India, and had requested the Goa government to relieve him for one day to enable him to accept his promotion and to report back to perform his duties as CEE. He also stated that he hadn't received his entire salary.
The government refused his proposal and immediately on the same day issued an order on May 19 serving Bhajekar with a one month's notice.
He then requested the Goa government to withdraw the order issued by the personnel department and relieve him gracefully after the completion of one year on September 13, 2016.
When this was not granted he went to the High Court seeking relief.
The court passed an ad interim order in June stating that no further action against Bhajekar be taken based on the impugned September order.
Bhajekar then stated that he would like to compete his two year deputation till September 2017 which the court has stated is not at all justifiable and fair since he availed of the benefit of the ad interim order.
The government in court has claimed that the state cannot meet the financial burden of his services and that his termination was in public interest.
The court has stated that Bhajekar is justified to contend that his salary and all other allowances as stipulated in terms of his appointment on deputation be paid adding that the terms of his appointment clearly provide that his salary and allowances be protected.
The High Court of Bombay at Goa disposed of his petition by accepting the statement of the advocate general that the pay and all other allowances be paid to him as per the August 8,2016 order.
Bhajekar's prayer for a stay was rejected by the court that stated that it found no reason to grant it.
Goa court to rule on 2008 British schoolgirl's death
MMNN:21 Sept. 2016
A court in Goa will finally deliver a verdict on Friday on two men over the rape and death of British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling in 2008, after years of delays and controversy.
Fifteen-year-old Keeling's bruised and half-naked body was found on popular Anjuna beach eight years ago.
Her death made headlines worldwide, drawing attention to the dark side of a tourist destination that has long been a hangout for Western hippies and later highlighting country's sluggish justice system.
Police initially dismissed the teenager's death as an accident but opened a murder probe after Keeling's mother, Fiona MacKeown, pushed for a second autopsy which proved she had been drugged and raped.
MacKeown also accused local authorities of trying to cover up the death to protect drug gangs operating in Goa.
Several weeks after the attack, local men Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho were arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, using force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty and of administering drugs with intent to harm.
The move angered the victim's family who had wanted the defendants tried for rape and murder, but officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said they lacked sufficient evidence to indict them on stronger charges.
Police allege D'Souza and Carvalho plied Keeling with a cocktail of drink and illegal drugs, including cocaine, before sexually assaulting her and leaving her to die by dumping her unconscious in shallow water where she drowned.
The trial began at a children's court in Panaji in 2010 but has been plagued by numerous delays, including infrequent hearings due to a backlog of cases and a public prosecutor withdrawing from proceedings.
Key witness refused to testify
Final arguments were heard at the end of last month with the prosecutor arguing that dozens of bruises on Keeling's body were evidence of a struggle. Defence lawyers however said the teenager died an accidental death.
Vikram Varma, a lawyer acting for MacKeown, told AFP the prosecution's case was dealt a blow when a key witness, Briton Michael Mannion, refused to testify, but he is hopeful that some justice can finally be achieved.
"It was important for the judge to hear Mannion's testimony to convict. So that was a setback," said Goa-based Varma.
"(But) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that after all this struggle we may get a verdict of guilty," he added.
MacKeown told a British tabloid last month that she feared the men would walk free.
"We were close to putting it to bed once and for all but my heart has been broken again because Mannion cannot testify," she told The Sun newspaper.
The family was on a six-month holiday to India when MacKeown and her other daughters went on an excursion to Karnataka, leaving Keeling in the care of a Goan family.
MacKeown, who is due to be in Goa for Friday's verdict, came in for heavy criticism back home for leaving her daughter without parental supervision.
She was only able to bury her daughter's body more than two years after Keeling died, when it was finally returned to her by Indian authorities after a long bureaucratic wrangle.
I am a disciplined Swayamsevak: Manohar Parrikar on RSS-Goa rumblings
PANAJI:MMNN:17 Sept. 2016
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today downplayed the issue of rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar floating a political outfit in poll-bound Goa.
"So many parties are there. AAP is there. Anyone can float the party, this is democracy," the ex-CM of Goa said.
He refused to comment on the happenings in the RSS in Goa but added that he is a "disciplined Swayamsevak".
"I am swayamsevak, I follow RSS. You will have to go to shakha to follow RSS," Parrikar told reporters here in the background of the ongoing controversy within RSS in Goa.
"Discipline is the most important aspect for me. I have followed the discipline and I will continue to follow it. If you want any comment on RSS you will have to contact RSS," he said.
Parrikar was talking to reporters at the sidelines of a health camp organised by BJP to mark the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
RSS had recently relieved its Goa Vibhag Sangh Chalak Velingkar, who has now formed a parallel outfit called RSS Goa Prant.
Velingkar has also announced that Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch, of which he is the convener, would be floating a political party on October 2.
BBSM headed by Velingkar has been agitating demanding regional languages as Medium of Instruction in state's elementary education.
Velingkar was "relieved" as Goa RSS chief on August 31 after BBSM expressed its intent to launch a political party to take on BJP in the 2017 Goa Assembly polls.
His supporters had detached themselves from the RSS' Konkan prant, and had formed the 'Goa prant', which the RSS leadership had refused to recognise.
He has been spearheading a hectic campaign for the primacy of regional languages like Konkani and Marathi as MOI in schools and wanted the BJP government to stop support to English medium schools.
Velingkar has locked horns with the BJP government headed by Laxmikant Parsekar over the issue, with members of his outfit even showing black flags to party chief Amit Shah during a recent visit to the state.
He recently said the "Sangh unit" in the coastal state will function "independently", at least till the Assembly polls.
However, RSS had been quick to debunk him, saying none of its units can dissociate themselves from the outfit and brought in Laxman Behre as the new Sangh chief in Goa.
Scarlett's mother fears her daughter's Goa murderers won't face justice
MMNN:17 Sept. 2016
The mother of a British teenager killed on a Goa beach says she now fears her daughter will not get justice after a key witness refused to give evidence.
Michael Mannion had previously stated that he saw one of the two men accused of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling on Anjuna beach on the night of her death, in February 2008.
But the Briton, who had been staying with the man at the time, did not return to Goa for the trial this summer, potentially weakening the prosecution case.
Even if a guilty verdict is handed down against Samson D'Souza, 30, and his fellow accused Placido Carvalho, 42, next Friday Scarlett's mother Fiona MacKeown says her own feeling of guilt will never go away.
For more than eight years she has been haunted by the memory of her daughter begging to attend the Valentine's Day beach party alone.
In the end she succumbed and allowed the teenager to go. A few hours later Scarlett was dead.
Ms Mackeown, 52, says she will have to live with the regret of agreeing to her demands for the rest of her life.
She left her teenage daughter living with a family friend on Goa, 25-year-old tour guide Julio Lobo, while she explored the local coast with her other children, drawing accusations she had "dumped" the teenager.
Although Scarlett rejoined he family along the coast a few days later, she was allowed to return on her own to Anjuna for the beach party.
But in an emotional response to those who have long taunted her with accusations of neglect and abandonment Ms MacKeown said: "I did not murder her."
On Monday Ms Mackeown will return to the Indian state to face D'Souza and Carvalho in the hope of seeing them found guilty and punished.
During the beach party Scarlett was plied with a cocktail of drink and drugs before being assaulted and killed. She was pushed face first into the shallow water's edge and had suffered numerous injuries to her face and body.
D'Souza and Carvalho both deny culpable homicide and grievous sexual assault.
Now the prosecution has warned Ms MacKeown that their case against the two men has been weakened because Mannion, 44 - who had been staying with D'Sousa and saw his host on the night Scarlett was killed - has not given evidence.
Ms MacKeown said: "I have seen Michael's statements. But they are not admissible because they were not taken in front of the court.
"He was going to go and was all set. He sounded hopeful and he sounded really positive but he did not turn up. He claims to have PTSD - I think I did as well and she was my daughter, but it didn't stop me."
She added: "The fact that he left her there in the hands of these guys, the least he could do is to follow it up and do the right thing. We would have had a watertight case with his statement.
"He says he saw them giving her alcohol. He said he saw one of them taking a pill and giving a pill 'to the girl'. He saw him lining up lines of cocaine. If she had been five would that have been okay?"
Scarlett was buried in a quiet corner of the family's farm near Bradworthy, North Devon, "surrounded by trees and flowers", four years ago after her organs - removed in India - were finally returned to the family following another protracted fight.
At the time of Scarlett's death Ms MacKeown, accompanied by her nine children, had been dividing her time between the family's scruffy rural smallholding in Devon and the beach hangouts of western India, popular with ageing hippies and young European travellers.
During an emotional interview Ms MacKeown told the Telegraph: "My last memory of Scarlett was her nagging me silly to go to the big party on the beach. I gave in at the last minute and my last memory was her squealing, jumping up and down, hugging me and saying 'thanks mum I love you'.
"I have got to live with that, but I did not murder her. It's not my fault. I did not murder her. Of course I left her. Of course I will regret that as long as I live. The fact is I let her stay behind."
When Ms MacKeown was in court last month to hear the final arguments in the case she looked D'Souza and Carvalho square in the eyes.
"I was so close to both of them I could touch them," she said. "One of them, Carvalho, at least had the decency to look away from me and down at the floor.
"The other, D'Souza, just stared straight at me with a coldness - almost an arrogance. It was awful. Hopefully that won't have done him any favours in front of the judge."
When asked what she would say to the two men she believes raped and murdered her daughter, she said: "I would ask them: 'why did you have to kill her, couldn't you have just let her live? Why did you take her away from me?'"
If the judgment goes against Ms MacKeown on Friday, she will attempt to take the case to the Bombay High Court.
She said she is determined that something positive can come out of Scarlett's death, and plans to set up a support group for the dozens of people she said have contacted her about violent crimes in Goa that have gone unpunished by authorities.
Her lawyer, Vikram Varma, paid tribute to Ms MacKeown for "exposing the rot in the system and the existence of an unbreachable nexus between some officers of the police, some politicians and the drug mafia in Goa".
"However the larger issue of the rot remains and she at best may get partial justice for Scarlett after eight years of forced patience," he said.
Mr Varma, who has worked on the case pro bono, argued that the extreme delays in trial have made it an unfair process and possible grounds to take the case to the High Court.
"To lose a child at the hands of criminals and murderers is a grief that lies only in the mother's heart and it is that heart which grieves for justice. To me as friend and counsel, this huge grief is clearly visible in the eyes of Fiona, I can connect to it," he said.
"Often the huge delay in the trial turns that grief into helplessness for the aggrieved. But Fiona has shown extraordinary strength and tenacity and it is visible that she will not let her daughter down."
The Scarlett case shone a light on rampant police and local government corruption in Goa.
It is no coincidence that in the years since the murder of the teenager, botched police investigation and seemingly futile fight for justice, the number of British tourists flying to the island has fallen by as much as 40 per cent.
But Ms MacKeown also accuses the British government of being 'completely gutless' over her daughter's death, for fear of upsetting trade relations with India.
Contemplating her return to Goa she says it is a shame that such a beautiful part of India has become so riddled with crime and corrupt officials.
But still she refuses to give up hope that one day she'll see the verdict her daughter deserves.
"I'm going to take it all the way," she said. "What else can a mum do, losing a child at that age? I will get justice for Scarlett."
Goa Board chief Rebello gets extension
PANAJI:MMNN:14 Sept. 2016
An extension of one year in office has been approved by the state government for the chairperson of Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, Jose Remedios Rebello.
Rebello, who took over as the state board's head in 2012, saw his term end in August this year.
His term as Goa Board chairman has now been extended upto August 31, 2016. Rebello's ambitious reforms at the Goa board, like computer-assisted paper corrections, have attracted appreciation, among other measures introduced during his term.
After completing his masters in science, Rebello took up teaching in the higher secondary section at Margao's Parvatibai Chowgule College and soon took up the post of principal at Fr Agnel Ashram in Verna, at the age of 32. He was credited for initiating vocational education as a long-serving principal of Fr Agnel Ashram in Verna.
Simultaneously, as a member of Goa Board, Rebello introduced computerization at the board and so was a natural choice when the state board head's chair fell vacant in 2012.
Goa gears up to go to town with vintage bike and car festival
PANAJI:MMNN:14 Sept. 2016
Goa is gearing up to celebrate a day-long vintage bike and car festival on October 1. Over 50 vintage bikes and cars, including some dating back to 1921, will be driven around downtown as part of the fest. Visitors can treat themselves to a number of cars, including Citroen, Austin, Morris, Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and bikes such as Norton, BSA and BMW.
If successful, the event will be made into an annual one to attract tourists and will be added to events organised by the government, Minister of Tourism Dilip Parulekar said here on Tuesday.
"Goa Tourism is already showcasing its heritage through various forms and it is apt that we also highlight some hidden treasures of the past from the automobile segment," said Chairman of State-owned Goa Tourism Development Corporation(GTDC) and MLA Nilesh Cabral.
He said Goa has a rich heritage, whether it is monuments, forts, houses among others. Vintage automobile is another form of heritage, and, in Goa there are vintage car fans who are passionate about it.
"Through this festival, we hope to kindle that hobby and motivate Goans and others to preserve vintage vehicles so that the present generation and the future will have something to appreciate and admire. This can draw tourists from domestic and international markets who have an appetite for heritage and they will surely have one more facet to engage in when in Goa."
Goa has two privately-run vintage car museums and a large number of vintage bike and car owners and collectors.
RSS rebel group convention will have no impact
PANAJI:MMNN:10 Sept. 2016
A day ahead of crucial convention of RSS' rebel faction in Goa, the ruling BJP here said it will not bear "any effect" on the happenings within the Sangh in the state.
"There is nothing called as a faction in RSS. Swayamsevakas are never directly involved in political activity," BJP Goa Chief Vinay Tendulkar told.
The political party planned to be floated by Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) (which is backed by RSS rebels) will have "no impact" as it would be yet another party like Goa Forward or other regional outfits, he said.
Tendulkar said RSS volunteers have always remained with the BJP. "RSS and BJP workers are always together and they have worked together in past and will do in future too," he said.
A Sangh worker will never get involved in anti-BJP activity, he said.
The rift between rebel RSS leaders and local BJP seems to be widening as the former announced to hold a convention at Bambolim to decide its future course of action.
Velingkar was "relieved" as Goa RSS chief on August 31 after BBSM hinted at its intent to float a political party to counter BJP in the 2017 Goa Assembly polls.
His supporters had detached themselves from the Konkan prant of RSS, and had formed 'Goa prant', which the RSS senior leadership had refused to recognise.
Velingkar has locked horns with the BJP government headed by Laxmikant Parsekar over the Medium Of Instruction in schools issue, with members of his outfit even showing black flags to party chief Amit Shah during a recent visit to the state.
Velingkar had recently said the "Sangh unit" in the coastal state will function "independently", at least till the Assembly polls.
However, RSS had been quick to debunk him, saying none of its units can dissociate from the outfit and new office-bearers for Goa will be announced soon.
Velingkar, who launched the "RSS Goa Prant", had said that they will chalk out programmes in the meet to strengthen the stir to press for regional languages like Konkani and Marathi to be made the MOI in schools and stopping of the state support to English medium institutions.
The meet would also reach out to women to join the mother tongue campaign under the banner of BBSM.
Election Commission officials in Goa on Sep 14 to check poll-preparedness
PANAJI:MMNN:10 Sept. 2016
Setting the ball rolling for the upcoming Assembly polls in Goa, a team of Election Commission senior officials would be in the state on September 14 to check the preparedness to host the elections.
"Three member-team led by Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha would be in the state on September 14. They will hold interaction with office bearers of different political parties and officials of Chief Electoral Office," a senior official attached to Chief Electoral Office told.
Sinha would be accompanied by CEOs of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, he said.
During his visit, Sinha is expected to gather information liketotal number of voters registered, Indian voters having foreign nationality, number of central and state holidays and other information required to finalise the dates for polling.
The updated list of voters, as per the CEO Goa, state that there are10.84 lakh eligible voters for upcoming Goa Assembly polls.
The elections for Goa are due before March 2017.
Subhash Velingkar-led RSS rebel group in Goa to hold convention on 11 September
PANAJI:MMNN:7 Sept. 2016
The RSS rebels in Goa, who recently floated a parallel outfit under the leadership of sacked state chief Subhash Velingkar, will hold a convention on 11 September to work out the future course of action to step up their campaign over the Medium of Instruction (MOI) issue.
Velingkar, who launched the 'RSS Goa Prant' on being "relieved" of his responsibilities by the Sangh after he crossed sword with the BJP over the MOI issue, on Wednesday said they will chalk out programmes in the meet to strengthen the stir to press for regional launguages like Konkani and Marathi to be made the MOI in schools and stopping of the state support to English medium institutions.
The meet would also reach out to women to join the mother tongue campaign under the banner of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM).
As the convener of BBSM, Velingkar had taken on the Goa's BJP government over its support for English-medium schools and was ousted from his post as Goa unit chief of RSS on 31 August. "Besides various other agenda, we will also deliberate on involving more women in this cause towards the country," Velingkar said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is in Goa to celebrate Ganesh festival, was expected to break the stalemate between the BBSM and BJP, but nothing has happened so far.
"BBSM has not received any communication from Parrikar. There is no question of supporting the BJP as they have not fulfilled our main demand of withdrawing grants to English medium schools," Velingkar said. He rubbished reports that attempts were being made to restore ties between BBSM and the BJP.
"There are no (such) attempts (being made)," he said. Velingkar was "relieved" as Goa RSS chief on 31 August after BBSM hinted at its intent to float a political party to counter BJP in the 2017 Goa Assembly polls. His supporters had detached themselves from the Konkan prant of RSS, and had formed 'Goa prant', which the RSS senior leadership had refused to recognise.
Velingkar has locked horns with the BJP government headed by Laxmikant Parsekar over the MOI issue, with members of his outfit even showing black flags to party chief Amit Shah during a recent visit to the state.
He had recently said the "Sangh unit" in the coastal state will function "independently", at least till the Assembly polls. However, RSS had been quick to debunk him, saying none of its units can dissociate from the outfit and new office-bearers for Goa will be announced soon.
Delhi dy CM in Goa to chalk out poll strategy
PANAJI:MMNN:7 Sept. 2016
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia arrived in Goa on Tuesday to draw support for Aam Aadmi Party.
On his first visit to the state, after taking over as deputy chief minister of Delhi, he will meet with party workers and chalk out a strategy for the 2017 state assembly.
On Tuesday evening he partook in Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Sarvajanik Ganesh mandals in Mapusa and Bicholim. He will also be visiting the homes of volunteers observing the festival.
On Wednesday evening he will travel to Ponda to meet transporters. Later in the day he will inaugurate the party's office in the mining village of Sanguem.
Sisodia will partake in more Chaturthi celebrations in the neighbouring village of Quepem on Wednesday night. He will leave the state Thursday evening.
Parrikar has cheated people of Goa, says Subhash Velingkar
PANAJI:MMNN:3 Sept. 2016
A day after forming Goa RSS 'prant', Subhash Velingkar tells Vijay Desouza and Murari Shetye this is the first time when BJP has interfered in RSS functioning. Excerpts:
What do you have to say about RSS all-India prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya's statement that new office-bearers will be shortly announced for the Goa vibhag?
Let them appoint new office bearers. We are not in conflict. Till date there has never been two sets or committees of officer bearers in any prant. We have to wait and see what happens next.
Do you think it's the first time in the history of RSS that they have had to take a decision under political pressure?
Yes. We feel that my removal was a pro-BJP decision as Sangh members are in support of the BBSM agitation. How can RSS on the one hand say it is supporting the BBSM agitation and on the other curb the face of the agitation?
According to you, Manohar Parrikar and Nitin Gadkari, who is also BJP's Goa in-charge for 2017 assembly elections, are the main persons behind your ouster...
Yes. We did not get confirmation that Gadkari is behind my ouster, but if BJP is defeated in the polls then Parrikar's image will be tarnished and his adamant stand over the medium of instruction (MoI) issue will be exposed. BJP will continue grants to English schools and they will protect Parrikar... Parrikar has cheated the people of the state over the MoI issue.
When will you announce a political party to contest the assembly elections in Goa in 2017?
We will come to a conclusion on October 2. We have asked Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to give us their decision by September-end whether they will leave the BJP-led government and join BBSM. If they tell us that they will leave BJP and join BBSM in January then it is not acceptable. We are not keen to float a party as we have to divert our attention from agitation to politics. If MGP is not with BBSM then second option is to float a political party under BBSM banner and third option is to support independent candidates.
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CM: Won't let down Goa on Mhadei talks
PANAJI:MMNN:3 Sept. 2016
Chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Friday said that as long as the state's interest is not compromised, he is willing to sit across the table with Karnataka and Maharashtra to discuss the Mhadei issue.
Parsekar's statement comes in view of the advice given to the state by the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal at New Delhi to sit together with the other two states to try and solve the Mhadei issue amicably.
"We are not averse to holding talks with Karnataka and Maharashtra on the Mhadei issue," the chief minister said, and added, "We can sit across the table and talk as long as the interest of state is not compromise. I will not compromise the state interest."
The Mhadei issue will not be decided through vote, he said. Goa had informed the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal on Thursday that it is ready for appropriate talks with Karnataka and Maharashtra over.