PACHU MENON, MARGAO
It is quite unfortunate to have the state government waking up to realities rather late! After protracted periods of denial where we had Chief Minister Pramod Sawant admitting all along that the COVID-situation in Goa was grim but didn’t really entail any stern measures to be taken to counter the threats, he is back to his characteristic ways. Hence the news that the state has invoked Section 144 to check COVID does not come as a big surprise! Considering the resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the state, the public health department had earlier on Friday issued an order disallowing public celebrations, gatherings and congregations during the upcoming festivals, including Holi. The justification by the department that the prevailing pandemic situation which could aggravate due to the upcoming festivals has necessitated the restrictions imposed is however a very meek, but diplomatic, way of side-stepping an issue that has snowballed into a health hazard of full-blown proportions plainly due to the complacency shown by the state authorities in containing the menace of the virus. The obligations of a cash-strapped state may have compelled CM to overlook some of the safety protocols to bring in some relief for Goa. But the gross negligence shown towards the basic prophylactic measures spelt out to ward off the dangers from the virus by visitors to the state has indeed been a matter of concern! More so because the state has not thought it befitting to come down harshly on these violators who pose a definite risk to the locals by their wayward manners. Even when the COVID cases were spiraling out of control in neighbouring Maharashtra compelling authorities there to step up the safety measures, Goa did not find it necessary to seal its borders! The propensity to await disasters to befall it before embarking on any retaliatory course to challenge them has been the state’s undoing. Just as much as Goa had been in a hurry to get declared as the first ‘Green Zone’ state in the country in connection with the coronavirus outbreak in May last year, the haste shown to ease the restrictions imposed in order to bring the affairs of the state back on rails has had Goa galloping away on a disastrous course. It is time the state took remedial measures!