PANAJI: It was business as usual for late Matanhy Saldanha, the Tourism, Environment and Forest Minister, on Tuesday - the second day of the first session of the sixth legislative assembly of the state of Goa - as he carried on with his usual duties.
No one ever imagined that Saldanha, who as usual mingled with his friends while in the House and listened aptly to the address of the Governor, Mr Kateekal Sankaranarayanan, would not live to see another day. He also talked to the media later, wherein he declared that not an inch of forest land would be allowed to be diverted for mining.
After having participated in the proceedings of the assembly, Saldanha travelled late on Tuesday evening to attend the Shigmo parade at Canacona and reached home at Taleigao late in the night.
In his last speech, Saldanha called upon the people to protect the environment and the traditional Goan culture. Speaking at the Canacona Shigmotsav, Saldanha said, "The present generation needs to protect the rich traditional Goan culture and by doing this, we can say that we maintain the real identity of Goa and Goans. While we promote tourism quantitatively, we need to maintain the quality so that tourists will be attracted to Goa."
Though he appeared frail and exhausted, many of his colleagues and friends took it as being a sign of hectic campaigning during the recent elections and nobody ever thought that a lively person like him would pass away so soon.
According to the sources close to him, soon after he developed pain in the chest he told the driver of his vehicle while being transported to the hospital not to drive fast. He was talking with his driver till he almost reached the Vintage Hospital, where he was treated and where he expired.
Though Saldanha has left this world, Goans, particularly environmentalists, would remember his last words and his stern statement that not an inch of the forest land would be allowed to be diverted for mining.