It’s been two years already and Dr Pramod Sawant still seems to be learning the tricks of the trade. The two years have been a constant struggle for the chief minister having to deal with many burning issues apart from the dwindling economic figures.
Ironically, the CM has failed or struggled to deal with all the issues dealing with issues starting with M – Mhadei, Mining, Mollem, Money, Melaulim and MPT.
Let’s have a look at the above issues:
Mhadei: It is one issue which was inherited by Sawant from his predecessors but has failed to handle it strongly. While Goa had upper hand on Mhadei issue till Sawant took over, it was Karnataka who went ahead during Sawant’s regime in last two years, using their influence at the Centre, which the new CM failed to do in absence of Parrikar. Worst was the Union Minister Prakash Javadekar also gave a Environment clearance to Karnataka for the Kalsa-Bhandura dam. The result is that Karnataka in contempt of Supreme Court order has diverted the entire water to Malaprabha basin with a few trickles flowing down River Mandovi. Goa’s fate now hangs in balance.
Mining: Mining is another issue which is niggling the CM. Sawant seems to have failed to impress upon the Centre for need to resume mining, which has been backbone of Goa’s economy. Despite several meetings with central ministers, the issue stays unresolved even three years after SC struck off renewal of mining leases. Over three people are dependent on mining, including people from his own constituency Sankhalim. The resumption of mining will not only help the State’s economy but his own cause. The Centre seems to have not understood the seriousness of the mining or Mhadei issue or simply the CM may have not been able to convince them.
Mollem: The three linear projects – Double tracking, 400kV transmission line and the widening of national Highway through Mollem wildlife sanctuary has been the biggest headache for Sawant in last one year, especially. He has been unsuccessful in convincing the people that the three projects are in favour of Goans or not for transportation/ handling of coal. The Mollem issue has become a national headlines and has severely dented Sawant’s image at the Centre. The activists say that lakhs of trees would be cut for the projects and the government has been doing flip-flops on the numbers.
Mealulim: The villagers of Melaulim were successful in their agitation against the IIT Goa project wherein lakhs of square meters of their land was being acquired for the prestigious institution. While the Chief Minister has announced that the IIT, Goa issue would be moved out of Melaulim, the image of the government has taken a severe beating after the police lathicharge on the protesting Shel Melaulim locals against IIT Goa in the village. Local MLA and health minister Vishwajit Rane also washing off his hands from the issue. One feels the issue could have bee handled more sensitively. Till date the CM has not been able to find a alternative site for the institution and sources suggest the IIT may be taken away from Goa.
MPT: While the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) is operating from the Goa jurisdiction, its seems to be a parallel running government, with the State having no say on its functioning. Be it the issue of naphtha-laden ship Nu Shi Nalini issue are the coal handling at the port, the chief minister seems to have no control over the Port authorities so much so that he has to take a flight from Dabolim to Delhi and back to reach the MPT chairman. His constant rhetoric that the MPT will reduce coal-handling seems to have fallen flat.
Money: Money or economy decides how progressive or healthy the State is. In the last five to six years, Goa’s economy has gone bad to worse. The State is borrowing hundreds to crores to meet the salaries and other expenses. The State is also totally dependent on the Centre for compensation of GST. Importantly, Sawant has so far not been not able to generate revenue from the State. The State’s debts have increased to nearly ₹23k crore. Another factor is the COVID19 lockdown has been the worse for Goa’s economy and the State seems to be struggling to overcome the deficit of those seven-eight months. Another factor is the Sawant government has failed to make a judicious use of the Central government schemes or grants for development projects.