Claude Alvares – Environmentalist

1- What do you think are the changes that have happened in Goa in the last four years and what do you see in the future of Goa in the next four years? 

Well, BJP took over from the Congress two years ago, and we all expected changes, including zero tolerance to corruption. Now it appears the government is dedicated to zero tolerance to those opposing corruption! So we know, no real change has taken place. Regional Plan and therefore land use change in Goa is a bloody mess due to an illegal circular by the present

government which suspends the Regional Plan even while the government approves more and more useless projects of moneybags in inconvenient zones. However, the biggest change is the stoppage of mining, an industry which looted public resources and destroyed everything it touched including environment, politicians and officials. The Supreme Court mercifully stopped all that and held that all mining leases are invalid as well. If the last two years of mining had generated income/revenue of Rs. 22,000/- each year, that meant money worth Rs.44,000 crores has remained within the Goan economy! But despite being given a clean slate, the present government wants to continue business as usual. So no change there as well!

2- What are the most critical factors working towards Goa’s advantage? 

A very active and alert citizenry. A reasonably good media, competing to keep up sales. Good TV networks, each wanting to bring out information first. Absence of serious poverty among the population. A good interest of the people in voting.

3- What are the most critical factors working towards Goa’s disadvantage? 

The Goa government which over the years has created an international image of itself that does not augur well for any business or investment. Uncontrolled corruption, large scale pilferage of money through public projects, dismal governance. Ad hoc policies which change on daily basis. One man show, so nothing moves.

4- What does Goa need to do over the next four years to be recognised as a Global destination? 

Goa is a global destination without doing anything. Its natural beauty and its hospitable population is guaranteed for tourism. However, the other sectors like town planning, CRZ, garbage managers, etc are undoing the natural potential. If we do not do something serious about this, we will descend from global destination status to a non-entity.

5- Are the people of Goa its biggest drawback or its biggest strength? 

They are both. They are active citizens, they insist on their say in everything. They change things on the ground, oppose things that are against their interest, block unhealthy development in villages, complain about CRZ and noise violations, do good RTI investigations.

However, their drawback is their consistent tendency to vote along caste lines. If they continue to bring scoundrels and selfish politicians to power, all their strengths will be of no use and ultimately this democracy will bit the dust.

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