Times of India | 1 month ago | 04-02-2023 | 07:00 am
PANAJI: Irked with private contractors repeatedly delaying various contracts such as for public toilets, parking spaces and tourism services, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s (GTDC) board met on Friday and served an ultimatum to the agencies.From the delay in commissioning a new river cruise vessel to excuses about managing pay-parking facilities at GTDC properties, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte demanded that all works be executed in a time-bound manner. Khaunte said that some contractors have been “dilly-dallying for the last six to nine months” without executing the contracts.“We have serious concerns about the contractors, like those given the contract for a toilet facility,” said Khaunte after the board meeting. “Such issues are there at Anjuna, Mayem and many other places where the contractors for parking have not done anything. We have given them a strict deadline and told them to start.”TOI on Friday had reported how the parking contractor at Baga has converted part of the public toilet into a clothing store.“Yesterday they started selling some clothes where toilets are supposed to be. So on Friday, we went and took action, but the important thing is to look at the O&M (operations and maintenance) partners who have come in and to look at what they (contractors) have committed to and ensure they do not deviate from the agreement. These issues were discussed by the board,” said Khaunte.Khaunte and GTDC chairman Ganesh Gaonkar have asked department officials to issue strict directions to contractors and agencies appointed through the public-private-partnership (PPP) route to abide by the stipulated norms of the contract, including the deadlines.“In the coming days, a new passenger boat will start operations. It was supposed to start after Covid, but it keeps getting delayed, so we have asked them to give us a final date,” said Khaunte.The GTDC board deliberated and screened presentations for various projects, including the proposal for a digital museum at Aguada Jail.“The facilities that are created need to be used and operations need to start. the O&M partners have been told to start working fast so that the GTDC and the government can start getting revenue,” said Khaunte.
Laid-off IT sector employees can continue to stay in the United States even beyond the H-1B time limit of 60 days to find another job, as per an announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).Earlier, it was presumed that H-1B visa-holders get only 60 days after losing their job to either find a new job, have another employer file an H-1B petition on their behalf, or leave the US. While this may be true, all they have to do is shift their H-1B visa status to a B category visa, meant for tourism or business travellers, while they are there, according to USCIS.In fact, the US has this facility for anyone visiting the country on B1 (business) or B2 (tourist) status, the USCIS stated. The clarification is expected to assuage fears of Indian citizens on H-1B visa in the US amid widespread layoffs in the IT sector, which are said to have affected over 1 lakh Indians. In the first quarter of 2023 itself, layoffs — or “workforce reductions” — have been effected by tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Zoom. Several startups have also announced job cuts across sectors.The USCIS stated, “Many people have asked if they can look for a new job while in B-1 or B-2 status. The answer is, yes.”In a series of tweets, it clarified that “searching for employment and interviewing for a position are permissible B-1 or B-2 activities”.However, it is not permissible to engage in employment on B1/B2 visas. “If you are in B-1 or B-2 status, please remember you may not engage in employment within the domestic labour market (also known as ‘local labour for hire’) while in B-1 status or engage in any employment while in B-2 status,” the USCIS said.Before beginning any new employment, a petition and request for a change of status from B-1 or B-2 to an employment-authorised status must be approved, and the new status must take effect, the US government agency stated. Even those planning to look for employment in the US can use B1/B2 visas. The US recently said that it will process a million non-immigrant visa applications in India in 2023. At present, a thousand interviews are being conducted in India on a daily basis for B1 and B2 visas. The US had also extended interview waivers for B1/B2 cases, in case the applicants have had a US visa before, even if in another category.The embassy and consulates in India have already processed over 2 lakh visa applications so far this year, as per statistics provided by a US Embassy spokesperson in New Delhi.
After a three-year hiatus, China has announced the resumption of all types of visas for Indian travellers, including those for tourism purposes. “The Chinese Embassy and Consulates General in India will resume issuing various types of Chinese visas, starting March 15,” it announced Tuesday.With this, China has resumed all types of visas for foreigners, including tourism visas, port visas, and multiple visa-exemption policies, as a move to reopen its borders for the first time after the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020. However, inbound travellers have been advised to consult with their local China embassies or consulates for more detailed requirements and procedures.Under its zero-Covid policy, China had imposed strict travel restrictions on international arrivals starting March 28, 2020, to stop the spread of coronavirus disease cases from abroad. In addition to the reduced frequency of international passenger flights, the restrictions included limited visa availability – including a suspension of tourist visas – and strict Covid-19 testing and quarantine requirements before and after arrival in China.However, late last year, the country had shifted from a “zero-Covid” policy to “living with Covid”, with the removal of centralised quarantine for inbound travellers. Gradually, they reopened visa applications for most types of visas, even as visa applications for tourism and medical treatment were still on hold.Now, “with the latest policy adjustment” announced by the embassies across the world – including in Canada, France, Kuwait, Malta, New Zealand, Thailand, the US, and the UAE – these restrictions will finally be removed.In August 2022, the Chinese embassy had resumed services for 10 types of ordinary visas for Indian citizens, including long-term study, business, work, family visits, personal visits, and talent introduction, among others. However, applications for visas to China for travel, medical treatment and other reasons remain suspended.Even as the number of Indian citizens entering China with visas for business visits, family visits are also expected to rise significantly after this move, experts in the travel industry say this may not mean much till direct flights to China are resumed. Currently, China and India are said to be negotiating details for the resumption of direct flights, which were curtailed during the pandemic.
PANAJI: The Trinamool Congress Party, on Monday, said the BJP-led Goa government must explain the delay in acting on the Japanese embassy’s advisory and attack on a Japanese tourist.Read AlsoPolice on lookout for ‘fake cops’ who robbed Japanese tourist of Rs 9.5 lakh in GoaMore than a month and a half after a Japanese tourist on holiday in Goa was robbed of nearly Rs 9.5 lakh by two or three persons posing as policemen and threatening to “arrest” him, Goa police are yet to make any arrests in the case.The TMC also demanded that the excise licence issued to a bar within the historic Aguada Fort be withdrawn immediately to preserve its heritage value.“The Goa government must be held accountable for its inaction towards the complaints from the Japanese embassy. We demand an explanation for the BJP government's lack of action and urge them to take immediate measures to address the concerns raised,” said Goa TMC media coordinator Trajano D’Mello.TMC said that chief minister Pramod Sawant’s apathy has led to the overall collapse of administration in the state. A Japanese man was assaulted and more than Rs 9 lakh was stolen from him.“The chief minister, who is also the home minister, did not utter a single word on the incident involving a Japanese tourist who was allegedly assaulted and cheated by someone impersonating as a cop. The tourism minister's silence on the matter is alarming and it raises questions about the government's commitment to upholding the rule of law,” said D’Mello.D’Mello said that Fort Aguada has historical significance and the opening of a bar is unacceptable.“To uphold the heritage value of the Aguada Fort, the government must withdraw the license for the bar without delay. Failure to do so would be a gross disregard for the historical significance of the site and a disservice to those who fought for our freedom,” said D’Mello.
PANAJI: The state government will renovate the fortress at Farmagudi and a statue of Goa’s first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar will be installed in the complex, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday. The Shree Ganesh temple at Farmagudi will also be renovated, he said.Similarly plans are also on the anvil to renovate all other forts in the state, the chief minister said at the state’s official event to celebrate Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti.He said that Ponda will be the focus of the state’s plans to develop Goa as a spiritual tourism destination.“I will make a budget provision this time to renovate the fortress at Farmagudi, to install a statue of Bhausaheb Bandodkar and to renovate the Shree Ganesh temple of Farmagudi. We will definitely take up this project and we want to develop Ponda taluka as a dev bhoomi from the tourism point of view. To grow spiritual tourism in Goa, Ponda taluka is the ideal place,” Sawant said.He said that to ensure that Goa is not left behind in attaining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a new India, “we are working to establish IT and electronic city, but, along with that, it is equally important to renovate our forts and other such places of historical importance”.“For the first time, we have established a research chair in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the Goa University. The government is also working to renovate all forts in the state,” Sawant said, adding that the government is continuously working to see that the values of Shivaji Maharaj are imbibed in children and we will continue to work on it.“By stepping on this land of Gomantak, he had blessed this land. Under Portuguese rule, numerous temples were destroyed and if there was anyone who stopped that rampage, it was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is from Narve in Bicholim with Shree Saptakoteshwar temple that he started the work of rebuilding a temple for the first time. I feel fortunate that I could inaugurate the renovated temple premises recently,” Sawant said.Shivaji Maharaj did not only rule, but worked to see that every person in his kingdom lived in peace and prosperity and with their self-respect intact, the chief minister said.
PANAJI: Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has said that he will look into the request for a bypass road by halting the proposed plan to expand the existing highway passing through Corlim and Bhoma villages of North Goa. Union minister of state for tourism Shripad Naik had written to Gadkari to consider the villagers’ request for a bypass road.“I am in receipt of your letter dated November 11, 2022, requesting that road widening of NH4A through Corlim and Bhoma villages of North Goa be halted in favour of a bypass highway through the neighbouring fallow fields instead,” said Gadkari in his response to Naik. “I am having the matter looked into.” Corlim and Bhoma villagers are opposing the road widening, stating that it will lead to the loss of houses and temples and change the character of the village, which is one of the smallest in Goa.They state that the highway expansion will require the demolition of some important temples in the village. As a major chunk of the village land has already been utilised for an industrial estate, they said that the expansion of the road will further destroy the structure of the village.In October last year, a retired professor, Erwin De Sa, had written to Naik requesting that the proposed work be halted and that the construction of a bypass through the neighbouring fallow fields be considered instead. “I shall be grateful if you kindly look into the request by Professor De Sa and do the needful,” Naik, a resident of Corlim himself, had stated in his representation to Gadkari.The locals have proposed an alternative route of 7km that connects the Kadamba plateau to Kundaim. Not only is this route 2km shorter, but it also avoids human settlement areas and passes through mostly fallow land, according to the villagers.