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On KR Sarathi Seva Service

IT was with much fanfare that Konkan Railway announced over the print and electronic media its new assistance scheme for physically-challenged passengers at select stations, including Madgaon, for providing wheelchair facilities for being shifted to and fro the station and the train especially to the platforms 2 and above, since the only means of transport is by crossing the overbridge which a physically-challenged could not do.  All one had to do was to send an SMS with the travel details to the provided number.  Since my wife, aged 70, and handicapped due to a recent surgery, was travelling from Kollam via Rajdhani Express and alighting at Madgaon on July 6 at platform No 2, I sent an SMS on July 4 with all details requesting for the Sarathi Seva Service as it is called.  Since there was no response, I sent a repeat SMS on July 5, to which they asked for PNR number which I sent.  Later I called up the number and spoke to the person on the other end who assured me that information had been passed to the Madgaon station and that I would be provided the necessary assistance on arrival.  But on reaching Madgaon I was shocked to realise that no such arrangement had been made there.  There was not even a porter available to carry the luggage.  And in the heavy rain I along with a relative had to literally carry my wife all across the overbridge along with the luggage.  It was a shocking experience in contrast to the pleasant experience which I had at Kollam station where I was provided buggy service (an electric vehicle to transport physically-challenged) with full assistance from the staff including a lady staff, even though I had not intimated in advance. On reaching home I called up the number to which I had sent the SMS but this time they did not bother to even receive the call.  I then sent an SMS stating the facts and telling that I would complain to the higher authorities, but they did not care a damn to respond. I, therefore, plan to write to the general manager of Konkan Railway and also the Railway Minister to point out the sorry state of affairs at our own Madgaon railway station.



Protecting Children’s Rights

RECENTLY Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) has appealed to local governing bodies (village panchayats and municipalities) to constitute child protection committees with a view to protect children as per the Goa Children’s Act 2003 and rule 2004. Accordingly, the panchayats and municipalities should constitute the said committees and inform the commission at once so that it can coordinate with the committees to protect children from getting abused or any of their rights getting violated. On various occasions, we come across minors being employed at various shops, hotels and other establishments. The commission should take a serious note of this fact and come down heavily in such cases.



Political Class Needs To Be Serious About Agriculture In Goa

THE young and dynamic sarpanch of Aquem-Baixo was serious enough to highlight the plight of the farming community in the state in his own unique way. His comments that the elected representatives needed to promote farming in a big way, more so as agriculture could be taken on as a major occupation with the mining ‘embargo’ in the state having severely affected the economy, deserves a serious thought. It is indeed unfortunate that a state with enough cultivable land has to depend on neighbouring states to ‘import’ fruits and vegetables. The fondness shown by Goans for the locally grown variety – the ‘Gavti’ range- should have been an encouraging factor to promote agriculture in a big way in the state. But alas! Barring an enterprising few who have realised the true potential of farming, the locals are yet to grasp the ‘economics of agriculture’ in its totality. Underutilisation of agricultural tracts in the state has its own stories to narrate. It is all the more despairing to know that the local youth too have been shunning farming as a vocation. With the steep rise in labour costs putting paid to aspirations of many landholders who would have otherwise willingly opted for farming as a revenue-generating venture, locals are seen restricting their farming activities only to grow enough produce for the families. The state government should have by now realised the limitations of putting overemphasis on industrialisation as a means to attain higher per capita real income. It is observed that increased agricultural output and productivity tend to contribute substantially to an overall economic development. The industrial and agricultural developments are not alternatives but are complementary with respect to both inputs and outputs. If not for the lack of a political will, Goa has every potential to grow as a hub of agricultural activities. By throwing down the gauntlet on the farming issue, the sarpanch has only touched on one aspect of agriculture. If the political class had been all that serious about agriculture in the state, Goa wouldn’t have had its green-belts disappearing at an alarming regularity.


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