RAJAN PARRIKAR | “Is there any hope for Panjim?” That was the question put to me by an elderly Goan who came by to see me yesterday. To my surprise he had been reading my recent columns.
My immediate answer was, “No, we are past the point of no return.” I explained to him that the future of Panjim — and Goa — is a Hobson’s Choice: a smelly toilet or a stinking toilet. Either way, an unpleasant, unwelcoming future awaits us.
India has defecated on Goa in every sense, most of all by flooding our land with its people. This may be an indelicate way of putting it but it has the virtue of being true. Goa is a toilet today with NO HOPE of recovery precisely because it is part of India.
And so, the right question to ask is, I told the gentleman, can anything be done to slow this descent into hell? I fear even that is now beyond the pale. I have already talked about the filth and squalor in an earlier column. (Has anyone noticed the proliferation of panwallahs in Panjim? That is a reliable indicator of where the city is headed.)
As a hypothetical exercise, let us consider what must happen if Panjim – and Goa – has to remain JUST WHERE IT IS TODAY.
The migrant spigot must be turned off immediately, the flow of both the rich and the poor outsiders into Goa. This is close to impossible – India won’t be denied its “right” to crap on Goa. If you don’t have a place to live and can’t afford the rent, leave Goa. No more squatting on Goan land, no more expansion of slums. Not happening — Goan politicians won’t let go of their vote banks.
Enact a total ban on land conversion and large construction with exceptions for small structures and single houses. Corollary: PUT THE ARCHITECTS, BUILDERS, CIVIL ENGINEERS, LABOUR CONTRACTORS out of business. Right away you can see why Goa is doomed. These are not just the politicians and their cronies. THESE ARE YOU AND YOUR RELATIVES. The construction industry is the mother lode of Goa’s destruction. Even as I write this, new megaprojects are being announced.
Immediate ban on sale of Goan land to outsiders. Again, not happening. Au contraire, Manohar Parrikar is intent of giving away even more of Goan land to the Indian goverment. Mr. Parrikar has been the single most destructive force for Goa in its post-1961 history.
Force every elected politician – at the village, town and state level – to stay at home and DO NOTHING. This will go a long way in slowing down the decay. For instance, the Panjim MLA has plans for a ropeway and other harebrained schemes, all guaranteed to make your life and the city worse. The only way this can happen is through strong civil resistance. Again, not happening given the Goan record.
Enforce the city laws already on the books. No encroachments, no illegal hawking, no littering, no reckless driving, no begging (the begging racket in Panjim is a disgrace, going on for years now). Now we are in pure fantasy land.
As you can figure out from the foregoing, Panjim and Goa don’t stand a chance. The odds of you winning the lottery are much better. Finally, let me mention an idiotic retort I hear from time to time from some biologically adult, but mentally stunted, Goans. “Tu yo khobri bhair ravun ulaita,” they say (“Who are you to lecture us from abroad”). This line of argument is so juvenile that I am embarrassed to point out its fatal flaw to what passes for grown men.