LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (09/01/2021)

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Fill Vacancies In Information Panel

IN September 2020, the state government through its department of information and publicity had invited applications for filling the vacant posts of chief information commissioner and an information commissioner.   However, when the process for selection was actually initiated by a three-member committee in terms of Section 15 (3) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, a third vacancy arose: a state information commissioner retired on December 31, 2020.  It is pertinent to note here that the state government in 2016 had notified three vacancies – the post of chief information commissioner and two posts of information commissioners.  All the three commissioners retired on completing the specified period or attaining the retirement age of 65 years. Consequently, the Goa state information commission now stands headless. Thus it becomes imperative on the committee to fill the existing vacancies for the full-fledged functioning of the panel. In terms of Section 15 (2) (b) of the RTI Act, the state is empowered to appoint state information commissioners, not exceeding ten as may be deemed necessary. There are many pending proceedings to be heard and disposed of by the commission.

RUI FERREIRA, PANAJI

In Praise Of Pak SC Verdict On Temple

KUDOS to the Pakistan Supreme Court for ordering reconstruction of a century-old Hindu temple that was vandalised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province just a couple of weeks ago.  Also it has instructed the authorities to recover the money for restoration from the attackers. This is called ‘sense of justice’ which the whole world must learn from this sane and humanitarian verdict of the Pakistan Supreme Court. If a religious shrine of any particular religious group is demolished by miscreants from a communal outfit, justice can be adequately served only when the miscreants and their leaders are awarded exemplary punishment; if they are made to pay for reconstruction of the shrine at that very spot where it stood for centuries. What are the illogical thoughts, beliefs or sentiments of the goons and communal forces are secondary; rather the court of justice should see the hard reality of the existence of the particular shrine for a year, decade or for centuries. Indeed the Pakistan Supreme Court has sent a worthy message across the world by according supreme place to truth, sanity, equality and neutrality.

KAJAL CHATTERJEE, KOLKATA

Goa Bedevilled  By Agitations

IF the regularity of agitations that have rocked Goa is any indication of the people’s ire over the imperiousness of the government in taking up ‘developmental’ projects which are detrimental to the unique and fragile ecosystem of the region, the coastal state has much to worry about. More so because these public protests have failed to deter the government from going ahead with the projects. Let us for instance take the ongoing agitation against the Indian Institute of Technology- Goa campus. The ugly incident at Shel-Melaulim village in Sattari taluka, where the protesting villagers and the police clashed with each other after the agitating villagers refused to allow survey officials to carry out land demarcation at the disputed project site, purports to be a mirror of the government’s adamancy in the face of stiff opposition from locals when it comes to resistance against its proposals. In fact, almost all the agitations, where the people have confronted the government over its alleged ‘duplicity’, the reaction has been pretty much the same. With the entire state’s machinery at its disposal, the ruling dispensation is bound to ride roughshod over all opposition to its plans. While unleashing brute police force on people opposing projects would appear to the most undemocratic of ways to quell the simmering discontent among the locals, governments over the years have always depended on the police to unsettle agitating mobs. The matter of police brutality would hence be too lame an excuse to challenge the government with over its arbitrary stand on such issues. The Sawant government, already facing flak over a slew of decisions which have gone against public sentiments, finds itself at the lowest ebb of its popularity. For a fact though, most of the projects that have invited the wrath of the people for their contradictions do actually enhance the development prospects of the state. For example, IIT could be a prestigious project for Goa given its stature as a premier institute! But it is the manner in which the government has been heading into a showdown with agitators over their concerns for their homeland on the face of unorganised development that leaves much to be desired. It is for the government to deescalate the tense situation.    

PACHU MENON, MARGAO