LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (22/03/2021)

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Fall Of The ‘Green Tresses’ At Altinho

The overarching branches of a tree at the 77-steps stairway at the base of which is the Portuguese consulate resembling tresses of a maiden fell on March 19, blocking the staircase that depicts the way of the cross at Altinho, of fine Portuguese era architecture. It is an occurrence that providence prevented these two branches from having fallen on those frequenting this spiritually significant and symbolic stairway that is a remembrance of Jesus carrying the cross to Mount Calvary before his crucifixion. Many faithful perform this ritual during the Holy Lent season. One call to the Goa Fire Services and 10 minutes later they arrived to chop off the branches and restore passage to those who use this symbolically spiritual stairway which forms the Way of the Cross. However, early morning on my walk up, the chirping of the birds atop the branches caught my imagination and made what might have been a tragedy if the branches had fallen on someone, into a memorable experience, in a beautiful natural setting, an irony of sorts.

Elvidio Miranda, Panaji

On Rising Corona Cases In Goa And Other States

There is panic in Maharashtra (and some neighbouring states)  because  of a steep rise in the number of  Corona cases in the state. Side by side  this is a cautionary message from none than Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the need for states to take quick and decisive  steps to stop a second corona virus peak or wave from emerging by testing tracking and treating all cases.  Further apparently,  the government feigns  concern , but rules out Covid-19 curbs. Most of the   neighbouring states have ensured restriction of interstate movement, making Covid-19  negative certificates or testing mandatory before crossing the state borders. Many nations have gone into lockdown once again. In contrast,  the Government of Goa pays lip service, declaring  that it is concerned over these developments in the neighbouring states,  but is stopping short of  taking concrete decisions and actions, such as imposing  restrictions and mandating Covid-19  certificates and testing for those entering Goa. Are the people of Goa to conclude that although the government apparently  admits  is concerned about the increasing incidence of corona in and around Goa, it does not consider it appropriate  to take concrete steps to protect the people of  state as has been urged by none other than our honourable PM.

ROSARIO MENEZES, VASCO

KTCL  Needs Image Makeover

While the Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited needs to lauded for envisaging modernization plans and intents inducting 500 more electric buses into its fleet, it is however reported that despite already having 523 buses running on 278 routes, the fleet utilization is only 72% that is worrying! Mandated to provide an efficient and economical road transport for the public, the KTC has been everything but an epitome of competence and cost-efficient operations. Named by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India 2017-18 report tabled in the state legislative assembly in February last year as one of the four public sector undertakings which have plunged into a financial crisis incurring huge losses year after year, the KTC continues to show a higher quantum of accumulated losses than the capital investment, resulting in negative net worth to the tune of several crore. The high manpower costs and low productivity has adversely affected the smooth functioning of the corporation. The argument that a majority of its routes are unprofitable due to the high cost of operation and non-reimbursement of the ‘obligatory’ services it renders also fails to find sound reasoning. The fact however remains that although the KTCL has undoubtedly turned into a white elephant for the state; surprisingly however the government continues pumping public money in to an unprofitable venture! Amidst the attempts to have fiscal discipline, the decision by the central government to privatize many of the loss-making PSUs should motivate the KTCL to improve its standing and work towards getting out of the red. While the technical shortcomings are best left to the experts to debate on, it cannot be denied that the KTCL is desperately in need of an image makeover to improve it standing among the public. First and foremost, it needs to inspire confidence among the travelling public to opt for its services. These days, barring the shuttle services, many of the KTCL buses plying on various routes never run to their full capacity. What revenue can under-utilized services bring in! Similar manners of negligence towards earning opportunities have denied the corporation the much-needed proceeds.

PACHU MENON, MARGAO