Panaji: Lashing out at the state government “for deliberately trying to prevent Indian Reserve Battalion personnel from Goa from casting their votes”, Congress and Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Tuesday demanded with the Goa chief electoral office to ensure that the 400 odd IRB personnel posted in UP get a chance to submit their postal ballots. The two parties, which are in alliance for the assembly polls, alleged that the Goa government is physically and mentally harassing IRB police personnel and also trying to delay their return to Goa from Uttar Pradesh. Congress general secretary Sunil Kawthankar and his GFP counterpart Durgadas Kamat met with the officials at the Goa Chief Electoral Office. “There are over 400 of them who have yet to exercise their postal ballots and there is no arrangement for them to vote till now,” said Kawthankar. Around 900 IRB personnel from Goa have been posted in Uttar Pradesh for the ongoing assembly elections, but only half of them have managed to exercise their franchise. GFP and Congress claim that the government and senior Goa Police officers are pressurising the IRB personnel to vote in favour of BJP. State authorities have finally swung into action to bring back the 420 personnel, who have yet to cast their vote. However, instead of bring them back by train, the Goa government has decided to send buses from Kadamba Transport Corporation fleet on a 1500-km journey. Ten buses left on Tuesday from Goa He said that the buses being sent to bring back the personnel are not fit to make the journey and are not comfortable either. “They should be sent by railways because it is a long journey. Instead, the government is sending Kadamba buses to bring them back. Aren’t these personnel human? Can they travel for 1500 kms in a bus, which is not a luxury bus?” said Kawthankar.
Panaji: Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday asked CM Pramod Sawant to plan an entirely electricity-powered public transport system for the state. Gadkari said that his ministry would grant funds for the project. Gadkari said that even the possibility of using technology like Elon Musk’s futuristic magnetically levitating pods should be considered. “Shirodkar (Shiroda MLA Subhash Shirodkar) said Goa should get a metro. The PM has now handed me responsibility of rope-way, cable car, funicular railway as well,” Gadkari told Sawant. “You must be aware that Elon Musk has unveiled a new technology using which you will be able to travel between Delhi and Mumbai within two hours in pods. You now plan Goa’s transport system entirely on electricity, and submit the proposal to me and I assure (you) my support,” the Union minister told the CM after Shirodkar demanded that Goa should get a metro train. He said that Goa should also explore new research findings for implementation, like the use of old tyre shreds in roads to reduce costs massively. “There is a T-road near the Goa airport which acts as a bottleneck, and I have already told officials to come up with a solution for it. We can either construct a vehicular underpass or flyover and make the junction signal-free soon,” said Gadkari. He said he was happy that the new bridge over the River Mandovi has resolved the issue of traffic jams. “Whatever Manohar Parrikar proposed for Goa’s development, I agreed to,” he said. “He wanted the new bridge approved over the River Mandovi. I told him I could approve central funds, yet he said he would get it done with state funds. When he got ill, he told me now Goa does not have funds to complete the project. My secretary said it is difficult to provide central funds now to complete a state project. But I told him it has to be done as it is Parrikar’s last wish to see the bridge ready. I then allotted Rs 400 crore for the Mandovi bridge project.” The decision to construct the new airport at Mopa was also taken under Parrikar as CM, said Gadkari. “Several hurdles surfaced. Once this airport is complete, there is the need for a link road. Actually, construction of the road had to be carried out by the state. But Pramod Sawant came to me and said how will we raise so much money. So, we declared this road national highway and spent Rs 1,200 for construction of this six-lane 6km-long elevated road,” said Gadkari.