Politicians, activists clash over development

A debate on 'Development at what cost?' saw politicians and social activists crossing swords on the question of 'development' in the state particularly in the wake of the mining ban.

Beginning the debate, organized on the occasion of Matanhy Saldanha's 64th birthday remembrance at Kala Academy, former Cumbharjua MLA Nirmala Sawant felt "people should be at the centre of any development."

Sanguem MLA Subhash Phaldesai, who strongly voiced his support to the resumption of mining in the state, said that "we have to welcome development". "Salaried people in cities are taking decisions for those in the villages," he said.

Thalmann Pereira said "all development is at a cost. The question is who is bearing the cost?" Elucidating, Pereira said "this (who bears the cost) is decided by the power structure in the country. Profit has gone to private companies instead of the government." He felt the only answer to this was regulation of mining by forming a mining corporation.

St Andre MLA Vishnu Wagh felt "instead of seeing future development, we have to see what can be saved." Wagh observed that while in Kerala, the culture is entwined with tourism and tourists accept it, in Goa, Goans seek to imitate tourist culture.

Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte said "We have no idea what we are doing." He felt "people were taking to activism on any issue and thus putting self before state."

Social activist Oscar Rebello said "development means money." Explaining that while there were two pockets of people – those supporting no economic development and those supporting a dirty economic model which included mining, real estate, casino and sex tourism, Rebello said we need a smart economic model and urged the rich and powerful to change from their destructive model to something different.

Taking on Phaldesai, he said "People in the dirty economic model should plough their money into a sustainable model."

Pereira felt that "the state has been continuing with Salazar's (Portuguese) plan on mining. If we had done mining on a public basis (nationalised mining) we wouldn't have needed this debate." "Who will regulate mining? Will the chief minister who is changed every five years do it? Who is making the rules," he questioned.

Wagh said that while he sympathises with single truck owners, he had no sympathy for those owning 150-200 trucks. He questioned Phaldesai on why luxury cars were given as prizes for recent Ganeshotsav mandal lotteries in Sanvordem. "This money could have been given to the truckers," he said.

Following the debate, chief minister Manohar Parrikarstated that his relation with Saldanha was built on trust and integrity. He urged the citizens to trust him. "Trust me, my intentions are good," he said expressing confidence that he would take the state to new heights.

On mining, he said only the government can resolve the crisis and not the courts, while adding that recovering 35,000 cr (immediately) is difficult but if anyone has looted the state in mining scam, it will be recovered. [TOI]