Vasco: Verna police arrested Kishan Kalangutkar, 26, a resident of New Vaddem, Vasco, in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old girl whose body was found at Velsao beach on Thursday. Diya Naik, who was also from New Vaddem, went missing from Wednesday evening. Her family said that she didn’t come home. Kalangutkar and Naik were friends, police said. SP (South Goa) Abhishek Dania tweeted, “Blind murder case of Miss Diya Naik r/o New Vaddem Vasco solved within 24 hrs by South District team. Accused apprehended. Further investigation is in progress”. Vasco DySP Nilesh Rane said that the body of the girl was found at Velsao beach with stab injuries. Although he refused to divulge more details, Rane said that the investigation is in progress and police are probing the case from all angles. A source said that the body was found in the bushes and the crime appeared to have taken place on Wednesday. Verna PI Diago Gracias is investigating the case under the supervision of Rane.
Panaji: TMC formed an eight-member core committee for Goa along with a 50-member ad hoc committee of coordinators on Thursday who have been asked to strengthen and rebuild the party by September 1. The party has also asked its workers to prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, an announcement that could complicate Congress’ efforts to retain the South Goa Lok Sabha seat. Former TMC state vice president Rajendra Kakodkar is the coordinator of the ad hoc core committee, which also includes the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Luizinho Faleiro, Antonio Clovis D’Costa, Dr Jorson Fernandes, Jagdish Bhobe, Samil Volvoikar and Mariano Rodrigues. “The forthcoming Lok Sabha and vidhan sabha elections are our current targets and we will bounce back in a strong and resilient manner,” said party’s Goa incharge, Kirti Azad. “Our leadership will take up local issues and bring to fore the problems of the people of Goa and pressurise the current government to deliver solutions.” Azad made the announcement at a press conference where he was accompanied by TMC national vice-president Faleiro and Kakodkar at the party office in Panaji. The cricketer-turned-politician said that the two committees have been asked to increase the membership and form new district and block committees over the next 100 days, after which a new state-level executive committee will be formed. Interestingly, former Benaulim MLA Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka, who contested the assembly elections on TMC tickets, do not find mention in the two ad-hoc committees. When asked about Alemao’s role in the party, Azad said that the party has not been able to contact Alemao.
Panaji: In continuation of the previous forecast, the Indian Meteorological department (IMD) on Tuesday issued an alert for five continuous days forecasting light to moderate rainfall accompanied by lightning and gusty winds.There was a cloud build-up late on Tuesday evening with very light to moderate rainfall at isolated places.The IMD attributed the rains to the presence of a trough in the lower levels that will pass through Karnataka on Thursday and Friday and, possible moisture incursion in the middle troposphere due to a circulation in south Goa.According to the IMD, heavy rainfall (7-11 cms in 24hrs) is very likely to occur at isolated places and light to moderate rain at most places over the state on Thursday.The maximum temperature during the 24-hour period ending 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday was 34 degree Celsius, according to the IMD.Fishermen are requested not to venture along Kerala-Karnataka coast on Wednesday and Goa-South Maharashtra coast on Thursday due to squally weather conditions.
Panaji: In yet another reshuffle of senior bureaucrats, Michael D’Souza has been appointed as director of vigilance while Sanjiv Gadkar has been appointed as the special secretary of home and personnel. D’Souza was recently appointed as the managing director of Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), a post that he held for just three days. Gadkar will hold additional charge as secretary of Goa Staff Selection Committee while D’Souza has been given additional charge as director training at GIPARD. Venancio Furtado has now been appointed as the managing director of GIDC. He was the inspector general of prisons. Shashank Thakur has been appointed as project director of the department of rural development agency, while Maya Pednekar has been appointed as additional director of vigilance. Taha Idrees Haaziq has been appointed as secretary, commission for persons with disabilities. Kapil Phadte, the deputy director at the department of information and technology, has been appointed as chief executive officer of state mental health authority. Ajay Gaude has been appointed director for sports and youth affairs with additional charge as executive director of Sports Authority of Goa (SAG). Srinet Kotwale, who was serving as the additional secretary for home, has been appointed as additional collector South Goa. Paresh Fal Dessai and Johnson Fernandes have been appointed as additional collectors for South Goa. Kedar Naik has been posted as additional collector North Goa while Surendra Naik has been appointed as joint secretary revenue. Prasad Volvoikar has been appointed as managing director of the Goa State SC, OBC, Finance Development Corporation. Vishal Kundaikar has been appointed as director for settlement and land records.
Panaji: The trail of destruction left behind by Cyclone Tauktae this time last year can be grasped from the fact that in South Goa alone state aid has been disbursed to 594 claimants. Of these cases, two were deaths and an amount of Rs 86.4 lakh was provided in all to the 594 affected persons, South Goa collector Jyoti Kumari told TOI. The damage was much bigger and had to be altogether estimated at Rs 146 crore by chief minister Pramod Sawant. The North Goa collectorate is yet to compile relief amounts disbursed in the district. “No houses were rebuilt in South Goa. Five were repaired. But the government disbursed Rs 2 lakh assistance ex-gratia each for a pucca structure and Rs 1 lakh each for a kutcha house,” Kumari said. The affected largely carried out rebuilding work on their homes with government aid. As Cyclone Tauktae passed along Goa’s coast in mid-May of 2021, it left behind uprooted trees and electricity poles, cracked houses and opened roofs. But, more importantly, the natural calamity wreaked lives. Meteorologist M R Ramesh Kumar has estimated that with climate change we can expect more cyclones originating in the Arabian Sea rather than just the Bay of Bengal. Earlier, cyclone-related damage was mostly borne by the coastal communities on the east coast, but last year, stakeholders on the west coast also suffered. The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) provided over Rs 11 lakh in relief to 61 traditional fishermen living along the coast of Canacona, Mormugao, Bardez and Pernem, where Cyclone Tauktae wreaked havoc. The fishermen found their gill nets, beach huts and equipment in shambles. “Earlier, we could predict the direction of the winds, but over the years, as climate change takes place, it is difficult to tell what will hit us,” said a 45-year-old traditional fisherman from Morjim, Bhima Pednekar. The aid from the state in a record time of three weeks from the cyclone meant the world to those affected, like Pednekar. “The fisheries department has all our nets, canoes registered, but they asked for a long list of documents, including photos of the damage. This is our fate usually. I joined the occupation at the age of 15. For the first time, I saw aid come so quickly,” said Pednekar. A traditional fisherman from Cola, Canacona, said that rise in water levels is now seen frequently along the coast. “There is a lot of manmade damage along the coast and we often witness water levels rising much above the high tide line in the monsoon. I have applied for government aid several times before, too. But, last year, for the first time, I actually received the aid. As there is change in climate, a faster relief mechanism really helps people like us,” said the fisherman. Environment minister Nilesh Cabral said that he will ensure that his ministry is quick to extend similar support to all traditional communities living along the coast to cover any similar damages.
PANAJI: Taking cue from the devastation and flash floods that hit the state during the monsoon over the past three years, the state has revamped its strategy for natural calamities and put in place a detailed disaster plan with clearly specified responsibilities. Aside from standard operating procedures for response agencies, the state has also mapped the areas that are vulnerable to landslides and floods. With the monsoons less than a fortnight, the Goa state disaster management authority has activated the district disaster management cells and also set up control rooms in each district to coordinate disaster mitigation and disaster response measures, said state government officials. Water resources department (WRD) officials also pointed out that unlike earlier years, when cyclone relief shelters remained on paper, three of the five cyclone shelters in North Goa are complete, while over 120 relief shelters have been identified in South Goa. Two more cyclone shelters are being constructed at Altinho-Panaji and Marna-Siolim. Speaking to TOI, South Goa collector Jyoti Kumari said that the disaster management cell has identified vulnerable areas and also identified emergency response providers. “An exercise was conducted in early May where the various stakeholders deliberated in detail on the mitigation measures, vulnerability assessment, damage caused in the last few years and the role of the various emergency responders,” said Kumari. The trail of devastation left behind by cyclone Tauktae in May has not been forgotten. The tropical cyclone lashed Goa with fierce winds, heavy rain and gusts up to 100kmph. Tautkae destroyed over 200 homes, uprooted hundreds of trees and plunged the state into darkness as power lines and communication lines were snapped. The state government estimated that the value of the losses stood at Rs 146 crore. The surge in water levels also caused some low-lying areas to be cut-off from the rest of the state. The sea level rise saw many beaches being taken over with water entering shacks and houses. With this in mind, the government has identified low-lying areas and vulnerable areas such as Bicholim, Sanquelim, Divar, Chorao, Ponda, Paroda, Khareband-Margao, Canacona, Bogmalo, Vasco. In Ponda itself, the state has estimated that around 600 dwelling units are vulnerable to flooding. “The state disaster management authority directed all stakeholders to take up pre-monsoon activities such as de-silting of drains, trimming of trees, identification of dangerous structures. As per directions, the panchayats and the towns have started the normal monsoon work,” said an official who was present for the meeting. Aside from the regular pre-monsoon work, Kumari also said that an SOP is being drafted specifically for flood-prone zones. “There have been directions to the deputy collectors and the WRD to put up signages at flood-prone areas and places where drowning deaths occur,” said Kumari. The 5,000-odd residents of Sal, Ibrampur and neighbouring areas along the river Chapora have yet to forget the horrors of the inky black floods of August 2019. The residents of Usgao and Ganjem in Ponda have their own vivid nightmare, the havoc created by incessant rain and flooding in July 2021. “One of the key challenges that we noticed was that some areas were completely cut off and given the large number of emergency calls, first responders had their hands full,” said a Central government official who had assisted the state with rescue efforts. In 2019 and 2021, the state government had roped in the Navy, Coast Guard and Army to assist the Goa fire and emergency department. In preparation for the coming monsoon, the state disaster management authority has already formed the different teams for rescue operations. Additional teams have been formed to restore power supply, provide medical aid, shelter and food. The departments have also identified agencies who have cranes, trucks and boats which could be requisitioned in case of an emergency. In addition, the state has also appointed 350 ‘aapada mitras’ and ‘aapada sakhis’ who will be trained and deployed for disaster response.
MARGAO: Police investigations into the murder case of Rupa Parkar, a resident of Karmane, Dabhal, has revealed that she was killed with the sole objective of robbing her of the gold ornaments she was wearing. Curchorem police had on Saturday arrested Hussain Khan, 40, on charges of murdering Parkar. “During sustained interrogation, the accused disclosed that he had offered the deceased a lift in his vehicle from Karmane. On the way, he assaulted her with a lever leading to her death. Thereafter, he robbed her gold chain and threw her body in an isolated spot at Gandhinagar, Guddemol,” South Goa SP Abhishek Dhania said. During the course of investigation, CCTV footage from several cameras was examined and 50 suspects were questioned and verified, Dhania said. “Finally, the teams were able to zero in on a suspect whose movements were cross verified with the crime scene, following which Khan was arrested,” he added.
PANAJI: Even as there are 56,467 cases pending in Goa’s lower courts, just 4.7% of these — of 2,674 cases — are pending for over a decade. A large majority of pending cases, over 60%, are ones filed up to three years ago, while the figures for prolonged pendency has stablised in recent years. The National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) shows that an important reason for pendency is the court's issuing stay on matters. However, three other major reasons for pendency are beyond the court’s control — non-availability of the lawyer, long wait for document submission, and one or more accused persons absconding or not appearing. Of the 56,467 total pending cases in Goa, 30,886 are criminal cases and 25,581 are civil matters. Goa is known to have a good ratio of judges. The disposal rate of cases is also satisfactory, with 2,469 cases — 1,552 criminal and 917 civil matters — disposed of last month alone. This indicates that pendency remains high mainly due to the fast pace at which new matters are filed in the state’s courts. In 2021 alone, 11,336 new cases were filed in Goa’s lower courts. Barely four months into 2022, already almost 6,000 (5,946 to be precise) new cases have appeared before the courts in Goa. The number of cases filed in North Goa were higher than those filed in South Goa. This also means that the pendency of cases in North Goa was more than double that of South Goa. There are a total of 40,379 cases pending in North Goa district, as compared to only 16,088 in South Goa. Of the total cases pending in the state, 14% (7,952) are those filed by senior citizens and 13% (7,313) are matters filed by women. There are also 220 cases pending for more than 30 years in the lower courts, of which only one is a criminal matter and the remaining 219 are civil cases. Another 568 cases were pending for between 20 and 30 years. Six years ago, in May 2016, more than 8,000 cases were pending in Goa for more than ten years. This figure came down in 2017 to around 2,500 and has remained stable since.
Staff ReporterMargaoThe ‘Dubai modelled’ retail fish market of the South Goa Planning and Development Authority (SGPDA) is now found stinking due to lack of maintenance.The state government had renovated the retail fish market by spending crores ofrupees in the year 2018 giving a look to that of theDubai fish market. However, within four years, the vendors started facing problems in the market.The drainage system is choked leading to a stench in the entire market. Floor tiles are either broken or worn out. There is no regular water to clean the market.“The state of this fish market is very pathetic. Floor tiles are broken and become slippery. Visitors are scared to visit the market. There is no water to clean the market. The fish water draining system is fully choked. The gutters outsidethe fish market are also blocked leading to the stench. We demand theSGPDA to maintain this fish market and I hope thenew chairman of theSGPDA will look into the matter,’’ said afisherwoman S. Olievera.Another vendor said the agents collect daily fees from them for cleaning the market, however the market is not regularly cleaned on a daily basis. “We are seeing tap water today after ten days. How can the market remain clean when there is no regular water supply? We can clean our given areas, provided water be made available to us”, she added.
Panaji: Drishti Marine, the state-appointed lifeguard agency, has issued an advisory against swimming in the sea as conditions are expected to be extremely rough with fast currents and high waves due to fierce winds, thunderstorms and rain that are likely to hit the state. Owing to the present weather conditions, red flags have been erected across all beaches that are under Drishti’s surveillance. “Lifesavers continue to monitor and patrol the beach stretches. An accident can take place at any time and our lifesavers, who are trained in first aid, CPR and AED, are the first responders for any emergencies and medical interventions along the coast,” the agency stated. According to the alert issued by the India meteorological department, thunderstorms accompanied by lightning and gusty winds are likely at isolated places in North and South Goa. Rainfall is also expected over the next few days. The last week has seen over 20 rescues from the sea across several beach stretches. Over the past two days, Calangute itself witnessed eight rescues, all of them males.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe real estate developers in the state are upset by a move from the revenue minister’s office to refer, all files pertaining to conversion sanads for land above 1,000 square metres, to the revenue department for approval.A note issued by the revenue minister recently has asked the government to issue instructions to the North and South Goa Collectors respectively on the same.“In the meantime all the files with regard to conversion of land above 1,000 sq. mtrs are to be placed in abeyance,” says the note.The Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI- Goa) president, Nilesh Salkar, on Friday, said, “We are given to understand that a note is being moved to refer conversion sanad files, of land admeasuring above 1,000 square metres, to the government for approval. If this is true, then it will definitely undo all the positive sentiments that are present amongst the stakeholders. We urge the Chief Minister to study the matter and take a pragmatic decision which will keep the confidence of the sector high.”Salkar said that the developer’s body would meet the Chief Minister shortly asking for the proposal from the revenue department to be dropped.“We hope that the note is rescinded and the present system continues,” said Salkar. He explained that conversion sanad files are cleared at the Collector’s level in the state.“While the TCP department is moving forward by easing the approval process for builders, the revenue department is pulling the other way,” remarked Salkar.Towards ease of doing business for the local real estate industry, the government had recently launched online approval system for projects up to 5,000 square metres.COVID-19 has badly hit the housing and construction industry in the state. Further the industry is also adversely affected by the steep increase in raw material prices and labour shortages.In Goa with most of the land agricultural, if builders want to construct on it they need to convert it by obtaining a conversion sanad.A survey carried out by CREDAI has revealed that 74% of builders seek ease of doing business from the government for revival of the industry.The state presently has 873 ongoing real estate housing projects in various stages of completion.
Margao: Set up two years ago during the peak of the first wave of Covid 19 at the South Goa district hospital, Margao, the RT-PCR laboratory has so far tested nearly 5 lakh samples, including RT-PCR and antigen tests. Dr Shawn Cardozo, microbiologist at the laboratory, said that the laboratory works in three 12-hour shifts and that its testing capacity has now been enhanced with the installation of new state-of-the-art machines and recruitment of more staff. The laboratory now has five microbiologists (two doctors and three with post-graduate qualifications in microbiology), 10 laboratory technicians and three data entry operators. Apart from RT-PCR tests, the laboratory does microbial culture and sensitivity tests on various infectious samples, testing for diseases like dengue, chikungunya, malaria, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, leptospirosis, hepatitis, and other bacterial infections, like urinary tract infections. “Apart from using conventional methods, we now have upgraded our laboratory with automated machines for study of bacterial infections and for detection of TB, which give faster and more accurate results. We have test kits for testing swine flu, H1N1, etc,” Quadros said.
Staff ReporterMargaoSouth Goa Member of Parliament (MP) Francisco Sardinha demanded timely issuance of water and electricity bills to consumers while also calling on the government to provide some relief to the common man from rising inflation especially concerning the fuel and LPG prices.Speaking to mediapersons at the South Goa district Congress office in the presence of district president Savio D’Silva, Sardinha said “People have been complaining that they are receiving bills of four to six months together with amounts ranging between `8,000-10,000. An average consumer should ideally be receiving a bill of `2,000 for four to six months. It is wrong to burden the common man like this. I ask the government to issue bills of water and electricity of maximum two months.”He added “Inflation is at a high and the rupee is at a low. People don’t have money to afford their food and the government is spending `5 crore on swearing-in ceremony. This should not be done at the expense of the common man.”Speaking about the Supreme Court decision on double tracking issue, he said, “The SC decision has made Goa happy. The government does not know what is good for the people of the state and because of which the court had to intervene. There were cases registered against those who had protested against this project; their cases have to be withdrawn as early as possible.”Sardinha also called on the directorate of panchayat and the panchayat minister to take immediate action in the case of illegal structure at Old Goa where people are still protesting.
Panaji: In a slew of transfers, the state government has appointed South Goa collector Ruchika Katyal as the commissioner of state taxes. South Goa deputy collector Jyoti Kumari will take over as the South Goa collector on Friday, when the transfers will come into effect. Meanwhile, additional secretary for housing Michael D’Souza has been appointed as the managing director of Goa Industrial Development Corporation with additional charge as director of training at GIPARD. Director of industries, trade and commerce Swetika Sachan, who has additional charge as chief executive officer of the Goa Investment Promotion and Facilitation Board, will also hold additional charge as chief executive officer of the Entertainment Society of Goa. Sandeep Jacques has been appointed secretary of revenue. He will also hold the portfolios of general administration, protocol, and labour and employment. Sanjeet Rodrigues has been appointed as secretary of housing. He shall also hold charge as secretary of printing and stationary, civil supplies and Goa commmissioner for protection of child rights. IAS officer Sanjeev Ahuja has been appointed as resident commissioner of the Goa Sandan at New Delhi.
Panaji: AAP on Tuesday demanded the scrapping of the double-tracking project entirely and requested that the Supreme Court inspect the double-track route that passes through the villages of South Goa. Former minister and Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha welcomed the SC’s verdict to cancel the environmental approvals granted to South Western Railway for the Castlerock-Kulem double-tracking project. “Now the question arises about the impact of the SWR double-track project that passes through the villages of South Goa. What effect will it have on the people and the environment of South Goa?” AAP vice president Valmiki Naik praised the youth for fighting for the cause and making it a national issue. He recalled that the NBWL had granted the permission in a rush during the online meeting without first investigating the ground reality. “The project has been labelled inefficient, unjustified, and potentially destructive by the CEC. It also stated that it is unnecessary for a dot-sized state. The project was never intended to benefit Goans, and the SC’s decision proved us all correct,” AAP vice president Valmiki Naik said. AAP vice president Pratima Coutinho requested the CM to withdraw the cases filed against activist for protesting against the project.
Colva: Principal district and sessions Judge, South Goa, Irshad Agha acquitted two accused for murder, granting them a benefit of doubt. The duo — Basilio Rato from Benaulim and Xavier D’Souza from Navelim — of murdering a tourist, Madan J, from Tamil Nadu, in 2013. Madan had gone to a restaurant at Colva at midnight with a friend where the accused, who worked as security bouncers, in a bid to drive them away, had allegedly assaulted them with a wooden stick and a sharp weapon. The accused were arrested two days later. Rato had escaped from custody two days after he was arrested, but was nabbed in April 2014.
Panaji: Health minister Vishwajit Rane on Friday held a preliminary meeting with health officers of the directorate of health services (DHS), where he spoke of the need to take necessary steps to upgrade existing healthcare facilities. He also told reporters that there’s a shortage of doctors, especially specialists, and that he would ask the chief minister to obtain a relaxation from the Goa Public Service Commission to bring them on board. When asked whether the health department has financial provisions in place or has to create them, he said that for healthcare to move forward, the government has to adhere to a public-private model. He said the guidelines for this have been approved by the Niti Aayog. The first meeting after he took charge as health minister after the 2022 elections saw Rane speak on extending health infrastructure to South Goa citizens, getting superspecialty doctors, and further strengthening the ambulance system. Rane is looking at trying an integrated model with GMC and the directorate of health services at Valpoi, to offer specialist services. “We discussed the requirements for the setting-up of cardiac facilities at the South Goa district hospital and all other shortcomings at the hospital that have to be addressed,” Rane told reporters after the meeting. He also deliberated about setting up another nursing institute in South Goa. “We are also looking at starting the super-specialty block full-fledged, and taking it forward,” he said, adding that he will have regular meetings with the department to ensure short-term and long-term goals are met. During his interaction, he also emphasised the need to intensify the Stemi initiative at health centres, and said that 108 ambulances should play a bigger role in the healthcare system. He said he wants to get HLL (a healthcare company) on board to create a hub and spoke model, as well as raise awareness about preventive medicine, and sensiting staff about patient management.
‘We will further discuss and take it forward’Panaji: Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has once again pitched for setting up a private medical college in the state.“I have discussed during the party (BJP) meeting; we have a scope for a private medical college. Hospital will be ours (government-owned property)…operated by them (private medical college). This is just in the preliminary stage. We will further discuss and take it forward,” Rane said, while interacting with the mediapersons on Friday.He held a review meeting with the officials of the health department and top officers of the directorate of health services at Altinho, Panaji.He said that certain healthcare services and projects can be executed on public-private partnership (PPP) model which is being adopted by the central government as per the guidelines set by the NITI Aayog. It is pertinent to note that in September 2019, Rane had made a move to allow the new South Goa District Hospital’s bed strength to be used to run a proposed private medical college on PPP model.This move was opposed by many including the opposition Congress party that had raised voice against the privatisation of the ‘public welfare services’.During the review meeting with the health department officials on Friday, Rane discussed the possibility of taking the ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Goa project to the remote areas of the state. STEMI has proved to be a boon in saving lives of the patients with heart ailments.Commenting on the shortage of doctors at the sub-health centre level, Rane said that the department is considering using the services of those doctors who are on service bonds.
Panaji: As part of a planned revamp after the state assembly elections, the NCP on Friday announced new presidents for the two districts and also appointed block presidents for 10 assembly constituencies. NCP’s national general secretary Praful Patel cleared the list of office bearers. The NCP has reposed faith in former MLA Jose Philip D’Souza, retaining him as the party president. Aloysious D’silva and Shankar Phadte have been appointed as the district presidents for South Goa and North Goa respectively. The party has appointed Paresh Tani as the block president for Marcaim, Suraj Naik for Priol constituency, Prashant Lotlikar for Vasco, Xeque Mohamod Acbar for Mormugao constituency, Domacio Barretto for Sanguem and Felix Fernandes for Porvorim. Roland D’silva has been named as the block president for Quepem, Estevan D’souza for St. Andre, Manoj Tani for Dabolim and Francis D’mello for Nuvem. NCP’s state in-charge and observer Clyde Crasto had met with party candidates and office bearers in April and had reviewed the work that needs to be done to build up NCP in Goa. Crasto had urged the party workers, sympathisers and candidates to work to address voters’ issues and rebuild the party without worrying about ties with Congress.
Panaji: The tourism department has written to panchayats asking them to share information about persons and entities in their jurisdictions who illegally rent out rooms to tourists so that action can be initiated against them. “Since it isn’t feasible for them (tourism department) to check every operator who may be operating without permission, they want panchayats to help them,” said an official. The panchayats, however, are yet to respond. Even as a recently-introduced law makes it mandatory for all those who rent houses or flats to tourists to register with the tourism department, industry stakeholders claim that there is a huge illegal inventory of rooms. The tourism department has not received many complaints about illegal operators. “Whatever few complaints we received were acted upon,” the official said. He also said that the department has made its position clear to online aggregators, that they have to ensure that guesthouses or rooms enlisted by them are registered with the tourism department. “It is their responsibility,” he said. In coastal villages of both North and South Goa, the trend of renting houses to foreign tourists has set in. In fact, around Arambol, Morjim, Ashvem, and Mandrem, every second house is rented to tourists (mostly Russians and others who stay in Goa for long periods). Over the past two years of the pandemic, the trend was halted, but it resumed this year, even though fewer foreigners are visiting Goa. Russian charters to Goa were suspended after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The state received a few charters from Kazakhstan, but operations stopped even before the season could wind up. “Now, domestic tourists who wish to stay in Goa for a long period of time stay in houses,” an Arambol villager said. “Villagers are happy to rent provided they get paid. There is a lot of money in renting houses to tourists.”
Panaji: After a two-decade battle against malaria, the state has reached the elimination stage of the disease. The directorate of health services (DHS) now has a year-and-a-half to achieve the target of elimination. However, officials said that there are some challenges that need to be addressed to attain this milestone. Non-reporting for malaria screening by families of migrant labourers, or late reporting by labourers themselves, and difficulties in detecting asymptomatic carriers arriving from endemic areas of the country are some of the hurdles before the health services. Dr Kalpana Mahatme, health officer and in-charge of national vector borne disease control programme (NVBDCP) for Goa, said, “The target is achievable as health officials will pull out all the stops, but some help from the community will be appreciated.” Unlike earlier, Mahatme said that families of migrants do not necessarily stay at the construction sites, and rather live on the outskirts of a town or village, and hence may be left out of the screening. “We want people who rent out their places to migrants to advise them to get tested for malaria as soon as they come to Goa. At times, contractors delay in reporting their workers as they don’t want to send all of them at once for testing,” she said. At times, contractors shift their workers from one site to another, and health workers find it difficult to trace labourers for a follow-up, she said. Zero indigenous transmissions, nil annual parasite incidence (API) and zero malaria deaths are three criteria the state will have to meet before being declared to have eliminated malaria. To meet the target, and as per the government of India guidelines, Mahatme said they have focused on high-risk areas having concentration of migrant workers. “Each health centre has its own sensitive zone or spots such as peri urban areas, migrant settlements as well as construction sites, industrial estates, fishing jetties, shacks,” she said. “Several labourers come to Goa from endemic states, and hence their screening becomes necessary before the infection spreads to the local population,” she said. Both districts have 17 health centres each, while 10 in North Goa and 15 in South Goa have achieved zero indigenous transmissions. Since 2018, Goa has not reported malaria deaths. “Nine health centres are yet to achieve the level of nil indigenous cases and have time till 2022-23. We do not intend to push the deadline any further,” Mahatme said. Even API for most centres has been zero. In South Goa, barring Margao and Cortalim centres, all centres have achieved zero API, she said.
Panaji: There is no documented census methodology for counting frogs in Goa even though the frog population is on the decline. It is only during sample surveys and extrapolation of wildlife population that the species is documented in the state. “Isolated studies done in 2011-12 revealed a decline in the population due to frog meat consumption. However, there is no official frog survey or documented methodology for census,” said South Goa deputy conservator of forests, Prem Kumar on the eve of ‘Save the Frogs day’ Goa has recorded a total of 24 species of frogs so far, two of which have been named in honour of forest range forest officers owing to their conservation efforts. The amphibians annually face the threat of poaching. The two sought-after species are the Indian Bullfrog and Jerdon’s Bullfrog. “Intensified patrolling has brought frog meat consumption under control. Community efforts have helped in reduced instances of poaching,” Kumar said
Staff ReporterPanajiAs a part of protecting eco-sensitive areas in the coastal belt, the Forest Department on Friday evening released turtle hatchlings on the Morjim beach in Pernem taluka.The hatchlings were released by officials of the department in the presence of Forest Minister Vishwajit Rane. Speaking to this daily, Rane said the Forest Department has focused on conservation of turtle breeding eco-sensitive areas in the coastal belt.He said the department is in the process of notifying more areas for conservation of turtles in the state.Rane further informed that the turtle conservation programme is being presently undertaken at four turtle nesting beaches of Morjim and Mandrem in North Goa and Agonda and Galgibagh in South Goa.“Olive Ridley turtles, one of the five marine turtle species, visit these beaches and lay their eggs during the months from November to April. Forest Department protects and conserves these eggs in an artificial turtle hatchery. Eighty nine turtles, the highest number in recent years, have been nested this year via the scientific management,” he said.Stating that around 6,500 hatchlings have been released successfully, Rane said, “We will takefurther required steps to maketurtle conservation programme a successful one. More area is to be notified for turtle conservation. I would like to see Goa on the sea turtle map of the country.”
Panaji: Minister for forests Vishwajit Rane on Friday said that more areas will be notified for turtle conservation in Goa. This will be part of efforts to place Goa on the country’s sea turtle map, Rane said. He said that, this year, the highest number of turtles visited Goa to lay eggs as compared to recent years. “Turtle conservation is being carried out at four turtle nesting beaches in Goa: Morjim and Mandrem in North Goa, Agonda and Galgibaga in South Goa. The forest department will take additional steps to ensure the success of the turtle conservation programme,” Rane said. Olive Ridley turtles are one of five marine turtles that visit these beaches and lay eggs from November to April, he said. “Due to scientific management, 89 turtles nested this year, the most in recent years. Around 6,500 (6,523) young hatchlings have been successfully released.” The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority has already drawn up a plan for the state’s four nesting sites. Based on this plan, ‘no-take zones’ on these beaches were demarcated to help preserve the ecology. Only marine conservation activities are permitted in these zones. Marine interpretation centres are being set up on these beach stretches to raise more awareness about turtle nesting and also to create sustainable livelihood sources for locals. Tourists and visitors are permitted to enter the ‘no-take zones’ but no extraction of natural resources (known as extractive activities) or putting up of shacks is allowed. Similarly riding of bikes on the beach, parties, and bright lights is also prohibited.
Panaji: Goa reported six new Covid cases on Friday with nil hospitalisations and nil deaths. A total of 469 samples were tested with a case positivity rate of 1.28%. Goa’s case positivity rate crossed the one percent mark twice this week, after several weeks. Active cases are at 44, the highest since April 2. Goa’s weekly positivity rate is 0.94% for North Goa and 0.82% for South Goa between April 22 and April 28.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe number of COVID cases doubled in Goa on Wednesday with the detection of 14 fresh cases.On Tuesday, Goa had logged seven fresh cases at a positivity rate of 1.23%.The test positivity rate recorded on Wednesday is 0.97% and the tally of active cases has risen to 39 in the state.Fortunately, no new death linked to the dreaded virus was reported in the last 24 hours.Two patients were declared as recovered in the last 24 hours andthe overall recovery rate in the state continues to be at 98.43%.The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Goa currently stand at 2,45,409 of which 2,41,538 patients have defeated the deadly disease. Till date, 3,832 patients have died due to COVID-19 in the state.Meanwhile, amid a rise in fresh COVID-19 cases across the country, the public health department on Wednesday issued an advisory asking citizens to continue wearing masks at all public places.In an official communiqué, the department has urged people to continue observing all appropriate COVID behaviour as important preventivemeasures against the virus.It is pertinent to note that on Monday the expert committee of doctors had opined that the emergence of fourth COVID wave cannot be ruled out and hadrecommended wearing of face masks in public places and closed rooms.
Panaji: Goa reported six new cases of Covid infections and nil deaths on Sunday. With this, the total number of positive cases has now gone up to 25. Meanwhile, a total of 711 samples were tested and the case positivity rate currently stands at 0.84%. The state has reported 3,832 Covid deaths, 2.45 lakh cases and over 31,000 hospitalisations since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Goa’s recovery rate stands at 98.43 percent.
Margao: Vasco MLA Krishna ‘Daji’ Salkar took charge as chairperson of the South Goa Planning and Development Authority (SGPDA) on Thursday. Speaking to reporters on the occasion, Salkar said that it would be his endeavour to provide a transparent and people-friendly administration in SGPDA. “I have been the chairman of Mormugao PDA in the past and I had given transparent administration, which was appreciated by the people. In a similar way, I will ensure that SGPDA is transparent in its dealings and strives to provide people-friendly administration,” Salkar said. Stating that he was yet to become acquainted with the working of the SGPDA, Salkar said he would first discuss the proposals and projects of the SGPDA with the officials before spelling out his plans and priorities. He, however, said that resolving issues concerning the wholesale and retail markets of the SGPDA and proposal of construction of a commercial complex would be among his focus areas. Salkar, who had contested the last assembly elections as a BJP candidate from Vasco, had defeated Congress candidate Carlos Almeida. Salkar succeeds Wilfred D’Sa. The former Nuvem MLA was rewarded with the post in 2019 for moving to BJP, thus ending the dominion of Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai on SGPDA. During D’Sa’s tenure, SGPDA had decided to prepare a new Outline Development Plan (ODP) for Margao and Ponda planning areas on the grounds that the earlier plans contained errors and thus needed to be rectified. The government by an order dated March 15, 2021, had accorded approval for the preparation of the ODP of Margao and Ponda Planning Area. Earlier this week, the town and country planning (TCP) minister announced that all ODPs in the state, both notified and draft plans, have been suspended “in order to weed out discrepancies.”