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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

There is something about state-of-the-art stuff that makes one cringe. In the Goan context, the term is vague and misunderstood because by the time a public project is completed, technology and design have already moved forward. So when Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza said that Mapusa was going to get a state-of-the-art bus stand, it was difficult to figure out what he really meant. Would it be larger and more spacious? Would it be more orderly than the present one? Would it be as clean as Patto Plaza with broad roads, proper garbage disposal and drainage systems? Would it have enough parking space? More importantly, would a visit to this new bus stand be a pleasant or stressful experience?
The new bus stand, planned by Rahul Deshpande who seems to have built up the reputation of being the go-to man when it comes to bus stands in Goa, will have elements that would make it better than the present one which is congested and beyond repair. To start with it will have parking space for 850 cars and over 1,000 two-wheelers. The bus stand will also have office space, a shopping complex, multiplex, supermarket, departmental store and virtually anything else that can be added to make it more complex. The project was delayed because the plot on which it was supposed to be constructed was earmarked for parking. Once the new stand is constructed the existing one is expected to be converted into a parking zone.
The last time something as large and complex as this was planned was when Digamber Kamat was chief minister. A bus stand similar to the one to be constructed in Mapusa, but on a larger scale was planned for Margao. The government was voted out and the terminus never saw the light of day. So perhaps, what Margao’s loss could be Mapusa’s gain.
Mapusa has grown over the years and growth has brought more traffic and more congestion. The present bus stand has reached saturation point. It is literally bursting at the seams and the need for a new and larger one cannot be more emphasized. Having said that, one wonders if a simple bus stand with minimum amenities would serve the purpose instead of a grandiose one with multiple facilities? Mapusa is one big market, and a vibrant and thriving one too. So what is the pressing need to turn the bus stand into another market with shopping stores and supermarkets? The plan unveiled by D’Souza would easily fit into the definition of a mall with a multiplex and all. It would be wiser to let the private sector invest in ‘malls’ or shopping complexes and super markets because governments have never proved to be very efficient in this area of endeavour. And with Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising less government, more governance, it might be appropriate to infuse the bus stand plan with a large dose of simplicity. It’s a simple argument. Why should public money be used to create infrastructure for the private sector?
Mapusa is in desperate need of decongestion. However, no one seems up to the challenge of imposing order without disrupting business. Parking is a huge problem in this city, which serves as a hub for North Goa. Like Panaji, the city has been allowed to drift as a result of which road widths have shrunk due to parking on both sides and pedestrians find it difficult to cross streets. It would be easier to find the proverbial needle in a haystack than find a parking space in Mapusa. A new bus stand with large parking area and conversion of the old bus stand into parking complex will help reduce congestion provided parking along the main avenue is discouraged and a rapid bus system introduced to facilitate movement of shoppers. The city is close to the heart of the Deputy Chief Minister and his desire to see Mapusa rise above the chaos is genuine. But to succeed, he just might need more simplicity in planning and less state-of-the-art ideas.
Chasing Tainted Politicians
The missive from the Union home ministry to all state governments to speed up cases against MPs and MLAs which attract disqualification is in line with an order of the Supreme Court to complete such trials within a year. The intended objective of the letters is to ensure that the political system is cleansed of criminal elements as promised by the BJP in its election manifesto. If public prosecutors are not available new ones would have to be appointed. Lawmakers have been misusing the judicial system to delay verdicts for fear of being disqualified. This fear turned into panic when the Supreme Court ruled that an elected representative would stand disqualified once a court passes its verdict, irrespective of an appeal in a higher court. But despite this ruling lawmakers continued to put their hope in the long drawn judicial process. With the new government pushing states to expedite cases the day of reckoning for criminal elements has been brought closer. This is the nearest India has come to ridding the system of criminals and the Modi government must push this measure through to its logical end. State governments must get on board irrespective of political affiliation and see this measure, initiated by the Supreme Court, through.

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