Nandkumar M Kamat
My students find it strange when I tell them that as faculty in the university, I take yearly Rs 12 lakh salary from the government and my guidance for them is open for 24 hours and 365 days.
They are satisfied that I respond to any academic queries even past midnight or anytime on holidays or even during illness. I don’t see the same spirit of being useful to your people and return several times the value of your salary among 61 thousand government servants.
Technically speaking every week from Friday late noon till Monday early noon there is virtually no administration in Goa because all offices except police and fire brigade and Goa Medical College casualty services are closed. The mandated government servants believe that only when they are in the office, they are supposed to run the administration. This is dangerous and against the Indian constitution. Government, governance and administration is a full time, no sleep, no rest activity. But no chief minister has shown the courage to openly say that government means continuity of service, 24 hours and 365 days and they would see to it that when called for help no government servant refuses services to the people.
The full administration has become completely academic, arrogantly self-righteous, inaccessible, unapproachable and indifferent in the past 30 months. Very few ministers and senior officers respond if news reports where their action is required are brought to their notice. Khandepar landslide is a direct proof of massive corruption. The heavy water pipeline was laid without understanding soil mechanics. But the chief minister or PWD minister would never admit anything about corruption in infrastructure projects because it is easy to blame the weather or rains for everything.
Next time let both of them stand and check whether hot mix carpet of 25 mm as per specification is maintained for hot mixing of driving surface of any road in Goa or only 20 mm thin carpet is given and rest five mm is “adjusted” when the bills are certified and passed thus giving a benefit of 20 percent extra profit to the contractors. The eroded roads without side drains, all over Goa full of potholes point to large scale systematic, systemic and well-oiled corruption. Why we need a record 101 subdivisions in PWD?.
Thousands are going to fall sick in coming days due to stagnation and contamination of water and secondary impacts of the flood. From September to November Goa would see a record spurt in mosquito borne diseases. Vasco and other towns would suffer due to urban dengue. Already in the past ten weeks, hundreds of riders have been injured by falling in water filled road potholes. Thousands of farmers are crying over their losses. They would never get full compensation. Chief Minister could console them by pointing to two white elephants in Panaji the Rs 75 crore Miramar RCC road which nobody had asked to be built and the empty, underused multi-storeyed parking facility near Ambedkar garden, Panaji costing Rs 52 crores.
So wealthy, Panaji got Rs 127 crore for these white elephants without any CCP resolution. Goa government would admit when it comes to compensate the flood affected families and farmers that it has no provision, no funds for the rural poor. See the expensive eyesore installations dumped in Panaji. Under influence of politically well-connected artists government found funds without open tendering to buy these useless sculptures at price of Rs. five lakhs per kilo. Farmers and flood affected people can’t sell their woes by kilos. Nothing can be crueller than this.
After the excuse of model code of conduct for nearly three months another excuse of ‘being busy with assembly work’ was given. Thus, the administration excused itself from public duties for almost six months. It would find more excuses to sit idle for next six months. The alienation of administration of Goa from people is now total. This can be proven if you get an official mobile number in government directory and try to contact any officer at any level for any genuine public issue. Why the mobiles are switched off? Why they don’t take or disconnect the call?. Why they have no patience to listen?.
An officer with an official public funded mobile is our simple idea of connectivity with the administration in a democracy. By contacting them actually we are helping the public. But without any strong leadership the post Parrikar Goa administration believes that such calls are a nuisance. So, people feel helpless. That’s why hundreds of public grievances appear in media without any news on follow-up action. The chief minister would never be able to change this mindset because allegedly thousands have got the government jobs as political nominees due to influence and favouritism.
From all over Goa large number of stories of voluntary action by people have been published indicating that there was no government in these areas during emergencies. How long people of Goa would continue to tolerate the arrogance of the politicians, the indifference of the administration and diversionary tactics of the ministers, MLAs and elected people? There is no hope for future because every political party and every politician plan for only five years. Besides no ex-PWD or WRD minister would do any ‘post mortem’ analysis of projects completed during their tenure and identify mistakes and suggest remedial measures.
The government dismissed my idea of appointing non political citizens project specific local multistakeholder consultative panels for all public projects so quality and timely completion is ensured. The government rejects any role for civil society in construction of buildings, markets, roads or laying water mains or canals. I knew about possibility of corruption by altering road specifications therefore decade ago when hot mixed roads were being constructed in Goa University campus to welcome the President of India for convocation ceremony, I requested the then PWD minister Churchill Alemao to send his engineers to me. He kept his word and sent a team. I showed them what quality we expect and they assured me that work as per specifications would be executed. This was done and the roads hot mixed ten years ago are fairly intact proving that it is important for local stakeholders to be given a supervisory role in all the projects. The coming cyclone season in Bay of Bengal would further expose the ill prepared administration. People have no choice now but to be on their own.