Monday, 8 December 2014

Goan Environmental Awareness

It is extremely important that we Goans keep ourselves updated on the subject of Environmental Awareness, as else we will pay a heavy price of our complacency in the near future. While we continue to make merry in a susegad attitude, politicians and their backers with deep pockets are selling us out, destroying our environment, cutting our hills, polluting our water, land and air etc Already they are contributing to a potential water crisis in the near future by now planning the diversion of Tillari Waters (Originally meant for irrigation/drinking) to MOPA and the Mammoth Golf Course at Tiracol.

How many of us know that Goa is going to lose a lot of its land via Global Warming and with the short sighted policies, coupled with the corrupt greed of our governing authorities, the actual negative fallout will be much more serious!!  

By being aware of the severe environmental implications, local people can act as watchdogs on the actions of their respective politicians including Municipalities and Village Panchayats; to ensure the right development is taking place for the interest of the locals only and to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Arwin Mesquita.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Colva's Anonymous Letters

This could be happening in other parts of Goa but in Colva particularly, many are aware of anonymous letters being sent by some person(s); in the form of Typed out letters being posted to various individuals and also delivered anonymously to physical locations i.e. Shops, Residences etc. These letters were also sent out targeting me with all sorts of false information, so as to try to malign my reputation. I would not care much about it as such, but I appreciate that many such maligning letters are sent out against many other people in Colva, at various times in the past. The very way this being done by the person(s), shows a nature of a coward. Probably can't face out issues in a civilized manner and has to resort to such low ways. Or perhaps plans by vested interests to the detriment of Colva/Colvenkars have been challenged/stopped and hence the frustration by these person(s)!!  Surely these anonymous letter writers must be kept informed that should deemed be necessary, there are ways to unmask these type of person(s).

Arwin Mesquita, Colva. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Goa's Massive Real Estate Scam

The recent case involving Dr. Otilia Mascarenhas, where her property was fraudently sold to an organised syndicate, is serious eye-opener to a a much serious issue in Goa today. Many were upset with the mining ban which was nothing but a consequence of years of mining scam cum environmental destruction; courtesy politicians and select mining families. The next big scam in my opinion that has to be seriously investigated is the Real Estate Sector in Goa, where I understand there is a very high rate of fraud coupled with a rapid rate of environmental destruction, hill cutting pollution of water resources etc I was shocked to see reports of eminent environmentalists on the pathetic state of the environment/ecology in Goa today. We need likes of a Shah Commission to investigate the Real Estate Fraud in Goa, as I believe the current government is not willing to address the issue; possibly due to vested interests and huge monetary stakes involved. The earlier Congress Government was destroying Goa via the real estate scam so we voted for a change, unfortunately the BJP is no better and has let Goa down big time.. Classic example is the Regional Plans which is being deliberately or rather suspiciously delayed!! Arwin Mesquita.

Goans Leaving Goa - Seeking Citizenship Elsewhere

Apparently many Goans are seeking to leaving Goa via various avenues, the most opted avenues was by the way of acquiring a Portugeese Passport. In my view, yes this is a clear failure of India towards Goa/Goans after invading the state in 1961 and making false promises. However with saying that, I believe that Goans have an obligation to preserve their state and identity, and not to turn their back on Goa. I appreciate that there are those who leave for economic reasons due to the failure of the Indian Government and successive Goa Government Failures (including the current one); but what's really sad is that even economically well off Goans are deserting their motherland. With the winds of change sweeping thru India on corruption etc there could be strong possibility that we Goans can use this change to have Goa as we would like to be, unfortunately Goans as always, lack in vision and always prefer the easy way out; I wonder if in the end is it really a better life they are going for or is it a mirage? Today are many outsiders who are ready to pay huge amounts to buy land in Goa, but small minded Goans are selling off their valuable properties , really sorry state of affairs with the Goan Mentality and love for their State/Identity!!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Outrageous (RICH Goa made Poor)

Dear Goans, Today Goa/Goans could have been the richest in the world. But please see how our state is looted by the state and local mining lobbies. It is really strange that we are accepting all this nonsense. There would have been no need to many Goans to migrate for better opportunities. Arwin Renewal of Mining Leases Rajendra Kakodkar It has been reported in the press that the Parrikar government is planning to renew iron ore mining leases. Most of these leases had expired in 2007. The Digamber Kamat government did not renew them because questions were being raised as to why a mine should be given “free” to certain private parties, when others are prepared to pay hundreds of crores of rupees for the same? Digamber Kamat instead of renewing the mines after collecting the price thereof or stopping the mine; allowed private profit-making parties to mine and loot the public iron ore. Public Trust Doctrine holds that minerals belong to the people and the government is merely a trustee holding custody of the minerals. When our trustee (government) gives any of our minerals to a private party for profit making; Article 14 of the Constitution makes it compulsory for the government to adopt methods that are transparent, competitive and revenue maximizing. Transparency requires the process of allotment to be well publicized. Competitive means every citizen is eligible to apply for the lease. Revenue maximizing means the one who desires the lease must pay the highest price. The method, which the Parrikar government is planning to employ, does not satisfy any of the criteria prescribed by the Constitution. This is exactly the reason why the Supreme Court had cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum given by Telecom Minister, A Raja, who still languishes in Tihar Jail. The Supreme Court further ordered compulsory “public auction” for giving out licences for 2G spectrum. In the case of coal allocations as well, the central government has henceforth decided to allot mines via competitive bidding. When the President of India approached the Supreme Court, this is what the Supreme Court ordered on 27 September, 2012…. “ when such a policy decision is not backed by a social or welfare purpose, and precious and scarce natural resources are alienated for commercial pursuits of profit maximizing private entrepreneurs, adoption of means other than those that are competitive and maximize revenue may be arbitrary and face the wrath of Article 14 of the Constitution. Hence, rather than prescribing or proscribing a method, we believe, a judicial scrutiny of methods of disposal of natural resources should depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, in consonance with the principles which we have culled out above. Failing which, the Court, in exercise of power of judicial review, shall term the executive action as arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable and capricious due to its antimony with Article 14 of the Constitution.” All the mining lessees (not mine owners) in Goa are private entrepreneurs and are seeking renewal of leases for commercial pursuits of profit maximization. None of the renewals are backed by a social or welfare purpose and therefore the renewal of leases to these parties to mine precious and scarce natural resources, without an auction is arbitrary and will face the wrath of Article 14 of the Constitution. Moreover almost all the ore is being exported mainly to China. The notification dated 22.12.2000, by the Goa Government, empowers the Director of Mines to refuse renewal of a mining lease. Therefore it is the responsibility of the Director to ensure that Article 14 of the Constitution is not violated while renewing the leases. It may be noted here that the Constitution of India supersedes the Acts (Mines & Minerals Development & Regulation Act, 1957, etc) and Rules (Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, etc) made by the Legislature and the Executive respectively. Let us now calculate the revenue Goa can accrue if the 91 operational mines are “auctioned” or “leased at a price”. Recently Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when in New Delhi told Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh: “The Goan mining industry exports ore worth $ 5 billion (Rs 27,000 cr). Of this the Centre gets Rs 7000 cr and the State gets Rs 1000 cr”. This means Rs 19,000 cr is earned by the miners collectively. From this, around Rs 4000 cr is paid to truckers, barge-owners, contractors etc. Thus the retained profits of a handful of miners works upto Rs 15,000 cr in a year. This profit comes from minerals owned by the people of Goa. The act of renewing 91 mines on 20-year leases, without charging a reasonable price, is thus tantamount to doling out public wealth of Rs 300,000 cr to a few rich and powerful private parties. This amount would go up with the rise in the price of iron ore in the future. Valuers and accountants have enough techniques to compute the present value of annual profits of Rs 15,000 cr, that will accrue in the subsequent 20 years. The IAS officers working with the Parrikar government are well conversant with these methods. The Government in the past has also employed the services of such experts in this field to value such assets. These experts not only evaluate the expected upfront value of a mine, but also suggest the optimum timing for such “auctions,” based on business and liquidity cycles ~ so that revenues are maximized. To compute the present value of 91 mines, a simple discounted cash flow method taught to commerce students, can be employed. At a discount rate of 5% (interest rate of 14% less inflation of 9%) per annum, the present value of all the 91 leases works out to Rs 113,000 cr. This amount is huge compared to Goa’s annual revenue of Rs 4000 cr and budget outlay of Rs 9000 cr. With Rs 113,000 cr available upfront to the Goa government, Parrikar can convert Goa’s infrastructure, education and industry into the best in the world. Alternately, just by investing Rs 113,000 cr in sovereign guaranteed gilts or RBI bonds, the Goa government could earn an interest of Rs 9000 cr every year. The entire Goa budget can be met from this interest. There need be no imposition of sales tax, service tax, electricity or water charges ~ no debt on the exchequer. Central grants can be the icing on the cake. Imagine the phenomenal growth in the local tourism industry, sans service and luxury taxes. The manufacturing industry could get a real push. Employment would surge. Does forgoing such a huge revenue source, auger well for the clean image of Manohar Parrikar? Every Goan should realize that they are the mine owners. Rs 15,000 cr pocketed by a few families is actually Rs 6 lakh per family per year of the 2.5 lakh Goan families. Though a bit late, Goans must at least now wake up and claim their mineral right.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Goa’s liberation and special status ref Goa’s liberation and special status Lawrence Fernandes Recently there have been wide ranging talks, discussions and debates on Goa’s past and future. Most Goans will remember very well the sequence of events that occurred in Goa on the two fateful days of December 18- 19, 1961. In fact, the reason for writing this article is to enlighten the generations of Goans who were born after 1961, as I don’t think they ever learnt this in Goan history books. India’s armed forces took control of Goa by force much against the wishes of the United Nations Organisation ( UNO). The USA’s official reaction to the invasion of Goa was delivered by Adlai Stevenson in the UN Security Council, where he condemned the armed action of the Indian government and demanded that, “ all Indian forces be unconditionally withdrawn from Goan soil.” To express its displeasure with the Indian action in Goa, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee even attempted, over the objections of then President John F. Kennedy, to cut the 1962 foreign aid appropriation to India by 25 per cent. Kennedy even went to the extent of telling the Indian Ambassador to the US, “ You spend the last 15 years preaching morality to us, and then you go ahead and act the way any normal country would behave…. People are saying the preacher has been caught coming out of the brothel.” That was not all. In an article titled India, the Aggressor, The New York Times in its edition on December 19, 1961, stated that “ With his invasion of Goa, Prime Minister Nehru has done irreparable damage to India’s good name and to the principles of international morality.” Many things happened thereafter. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was attacked by sensible nations on all sides, as some consolation, he promised that Goa would retain its “ distinct identity” and that the people of Goa would be consulted on any decision about their territory and future. Again, in 1963, he promised that Goa would remain a Union Territory for ten years after which the future of Goa would be decided in “ accordance with the wishes of the people of Goa.” However, MGP was unwilling to wait for that long hence the Opinion Poll was held on January 16, 1967. The reason for the MGP being so keen on merging Goa into Maharashtra was not very clear but one of the reasons they cited was the language~ that Konkani is a “ dialect” of Marathi and the most people spoke it! Maharashtra is now trying to pull Belgaum into its net on same grounds. The MGP further lost its cause when in 1975 the Sahitya Akademi recognized Konkani as an independent language and in 1992 Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. We do hope that the Nehru- Gandhi dynasty will remember the promises made by its patriarch, and that very soon Goa will at least get Special Status if not autonomy, so that Nehru’s soul will rest in eternal peace. Goans need this primarily to: a) to safeguard their interests, customary law and procedure, its language, culture and ethos, b) ownership and transfer of land and exploitation of the resources and the preservation of its natural and architectural heritage, c) protection of age- old traditional institutions such as Gaunkaris ( Comunidades and their assets) d) protection of the original SCs, STs, gauddes and dhangars belonging to the State.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Frustated Goan Mining Magnates

Subject: Frustrated Goan Mining Magnates Ref. With reference to the recent reports where the arrogant mining lobby made outbursts as far as Portugal, it only shows their extreme desperation. After years of looting Goa's resources in tacit illegitimate alliance with various highly Goan Corrupt Politicians and with usage of their huge stacks of cash, these miners were living in false illusion that they were untouchable, in their pursuit of destruction of Goa for selfish gains for themselves and their fattened families. ... Thank God for the Supreme Court order filed via a strong case put forward by the Goa Foundation. The mining lobby instead of returning the loot is instead involved in arrogant games like these desperate international outbursts, calling for reducing buffer zone around wild life sanctuaries to 0 KM, instigating the people earning a pittance from the mining industry to fight their proxy war, so as to enable themselves to continue with their illegitimate amassing of Goa's scarce resources. If they care so much for the mining dependent people, why don't these mining lords start giving away their illegitimately acquired loot, so as to rehabilitate genuine Goans affected by stoppage in mining. The World is aware that we need to go "Green" else we will not have a World very soon, but the mining kingpins appear extremely short sighted and least interested in preserving the environment; in their greed for amassing as much as wealth for themselves. It is projected that India/Goa will face a severe water crisis very soon and mining in Goa has seriously reduced/polluted water resources. Today many NRI's including myself were forced to go abroad due to lack of opportunities back home, simply because Goa's resources were used instead to feed the greed of few mining families and their corrupt political partners. One can only image of what Goa would have been today if the +35,000 crores (and it's increasing interest) were used for the benefit of Goa and Goans !! Arwin Mesquita, UAE.