Chief Minister PRAMOD SAWANT, in an exclusive interview with ‘The Navhind Times’ speaks to RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR about the decision of the government to finally permit a mining lease in the state to start its operations. The Chief Minister, who is presently camping in Panaji to campaign for Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate, also speaks about various issues related to the capital city
Q: Can you share with us the recent decision of the government to grant permission to a mine in Sankhali constituency?
Yes, we have granted permission to Nathurmal mines at Harvalem, in Sankhali constituency. This is one of the 18 mining leases, which do not come under the ambit of the Supreme Court judgment that quashed 88 mining leases in Goa and which are valid till 2020. The government has decided to grant permissions to these 18 mining leases for starting operations. This is a positive sign for all mining stakeholders especially as no significant activity in the Goan mining sector had taken place during past five years. We have come out of this deadlock and now cleared one mining lease. I can certainly say that this is a step forward in terms of boost to Goan economy. We will soon be clearing the remaining 17 mining leases. These leaseholders, however, will have to obtain fresh environmental clearance from the Centre as also seek other required permissions, besides getting the related plans approved.
Q: How do you look at the demand of the citizens of Panaji as regards moving the offshore casinos out of River Mandovi?
Till the time State Casino Policy does not fall in place, the government has to take extra care to see that the casino sector works in a streamlined manner, as also it does not clash with the local culture. At the same time, we should not totally ignore the fact that the livelihood of many people depends upon the casinos. The government just cannot go for overnight closing down of the casinos, as there are legal implications attached to the same. In the long run, the government will take the necessary decision once the gaming zone is set up, State Gaming Commissioner is appointed and most importantly, the State Casino Policy is unveiled. The government will definitely think about this issue.
Q: Do you see the Smart City project for Panaji as a problem before the capital city?
The Smart City project is not a problem but a solution for many problems, presently faced by the residents of Panaji. This project is a continuous process and will only be completed after 5-year period. When some beneficial project is undertaken, hardships are bound to follow during its completion. It is my sincere request to the people of Panaji to display little patience, and allow the works under this project to be completed. I am certain that once the Smart City project is complete, its fruits would be enjoyed by all citizens. Once all the works taken up under this project, whether underground cabling or provision of smart electricity meters or bringing the city under CCTV surveillance, are completed, the entire city will undergo a major facelift.
The capital city will be smart in every way, as conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched the Smart City Mission for the entire country. Disposal of garbage, supply of electricity as well as potable water, sewerage networking, e-payment facility, education… everything will come under the scope of Smart City project. The result would be there for everyone to see, after 5 years.
Q: The city of Panaji has been facing traffic congestion as well as parking problems for long. Can an effective solution come for the same at the earliest?
There can definitely be cent per cent solution to these problems. As per my observation, 50 per cent of the vehicles parked in the city are abandoned vehicles and are just blocking the space. Removing these abandoned vehicles and further, motivating people to park their vehicles at the multi-level car park building, at Patto would end half of the parking problem in the city. Improving the city transport system with hop-on, hop-off type of buses, will certainly help decongesting the city traffic. We also have in our mind, introduction of e-rickshaws in the city. These are few of the things that will completely solve the traffic congestion and parking problems in Panaji.
Q: The capital city has been suffering from the inability of the authorities to completely dispose the garbage generated here…
Disposal of garbage is the priority issue before the government, not only for Panaji, but for entire Goa. The process of treating 100 per cent garbage generated in the capital city had already started. However, somewhere in between the cooperation of the Corporation of the City of Panaji lacked, and the process could not be fully successful. Nevertheless, I can assure that henceforth the disposal of city garbage will run smoothly.