Govt keeps its word on welfare, but slips on development

 There are still a couple of days to go for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state to celebrate its first year in power, but the Goa unit of BJP is already in the celebration mood, with various party-level programmes scheduled to be held at approximately 100 venues around the state on March 9.
“The party is fully satisfied with the administration of the Manohar Parrikar government,” said the state BJP president, Mr Vinay Tendulkar pointing out that the government has strengthened the faith of the people in the BJP, which was observed in large measure during the assembly election, last year.
Mr Tendulkar, who took over the top party position in the state, after the BJP-led government came to power in Goa, told The Navhind Times that at least 80 per cent of the major assurances given by the party in its election manifesto have been fulfilled during the first year of the government in power.
“The government will fulfil party’s remaining election assurances during its second year in power, even though there is a five-year period to do the same,” he maintained, noting that the third year will witness the government implementing several new and innovative schemes.
Incidentally, most of the promises fulfilled by the government during its first year in office pertain to either doles or financial assistance, rather than assurances related to developmental works such as state infrastructure, power generation etc, or even policy decisions like the one about the state Regional Plan.
Fulfilment of assurances such as reduction in the petrol cost, hike in pension under the Dayanand Social Security scheme and Kalasanman scheme, doles under Ladli Laxmi and housewife allowance scheme, abolition of house tax in panchayat areas, increase in support price for rice and milk production, and discounted monthly passes for travelling in Kadamba buses, is linked to direct monetary benefit for the beneficiaries. Fulfilment of such promises also means a huge hole in the government exchequer, which already has to shell out a large amounts on the salaries and pensions of government employees.
On the other hand, there are several other assurances – especially those linked to the state infrastructure development – requiring substantial funds for fulfilment, and therefore, yet to get started. The government is not exactly at fault for this situation as it has another four years to finish these promises. And then, the closure of the mining industry, which is one of the major revenue generating sectors for the government, has also acted as an impediment for government works.
Interestingly, there are some promises, which forced the government to compromise during their fulfilment. The ‘amicable solution’ promised by the BJP on the issue of grants announced by the erstwhile Congress government to the primary English schools, was not exactly amicable when it was announced. ‘Grant-in-aid accordingly will be released to primary level schools with medium in regional language’; so had said the BJP manifesto, however, the government had to continue with the decision taken by the Congress government.
The security or to be precise, lack of security in schools, also forced the government to go on back foot, especially as the infrastructure development of schools from students’ safety point of view was delayed. The same is expected to be undertaken during the summer holidays.
The government also went back on BJP’s assurance to give an allowance of `3,000 to `4,500 per month under the Minimum Employment Assurance Scheme.
In many of the assurances, the BJP had put a deadline for their implementation, which could not be maintained. Appointment of Lokayukta in 100 days, construction of 11  new bridges in six months including those connecting Camurlim-Tuem, Chodan-Pomburpa, Calvim-Corona and Keri-Tiracol, or immediate scrapping of Regional Plan 2021 are some such examples. The government, however, did try to meet the deadlines with best of its efforts. The failure was due to reasons beyond its control. Utilising 60 per cent of the royalty received by government on mining, for infrastructure developmental projects as well as agricultural and environmental revitalisation in the areas affected by mining, was another assurance remaining unfulfilled due to obvious reason.
Several other assurances that may find way by priority during the second year of the government in power include filling 2,500 backlog vacancies for ST population in government sector through a special employment recruitment drive, achieving garbage management for the entire state, restructuring of the public distribution system so as to include more items of essential commodities at affordable price, and commencement of major projects like Mopa international airport, upgradation/ beautification of the capital city, and a new six-lane Zuari bridge.
The promises, which could  take a longer time to fulfil include supply of 24-hour uninterrupted drinking water, generation of power in the state by setting up gas based power plant and renewable energy sources, developing truck terminus outside major cities to reduce traffic congestion, rehabilitation of people living in shanty areas and in sub-hygienic conditions, preparation and execution of a master plan for conservation, development and maintenance of heritage sites, establishing a Minority Commission, setting up of Kala Mandirs in each taluka, and so on.
One assurance, which the people would have liked to be fulfilled by the Manohar Parrikar government in its first year, is however the release of annual performance report of each government department. Anyway, there is always the second year.
One is not yet sure how the Chief Minister will celebrate March 9, completion of exactly 365 days since he was sworn in as the head of the state government. One however, is certain that he, on that day would be preoccupied with the preparation of the state budget for the year 2013-14. And there can be no better way to celebrate one’s first anniversary in power than making preparations for the year ahead.  [NT]