BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
As the 180-odd delegates from G20 countries sat down to start the three-day 2nd Health Working Group G20 meeting in Goa, locals whilst being happy with the extra infrastructure push were surprised by attempts of the government to hide certain truths from the visiting delegates.
“Tourism in Goa got a fillip when heads of States attending the Goa CHOGM retreated to Goa for a holiday. Travel from Panjim to Candolim became a marvel due to the road built and things are getting even better since,” said Alvaro Fernandes whilst admitting he was unaware of what G20 was all about.
Alvaro’s ignorance of how the G20 convention is expected to help Goa – apart from the boost to infrastructure - is a thread that is flowing through the State with its citizens, “happy that the government has decided to spend money in Goa.”
Whilst there is satisfaction on the fall out of infrastructure development, there are many upset in the manner truths are being hidden from delegates and similarities are being drawn in the manner Gujarat was painted to welcome then US President Donald Trump.
“It was nice that the government painted my full building. This was not expected,” stated Advocate Jose Filipe Melo. “But it is a pity that they had to erect these huge railings as road dividers and destroy the beauty of the city. I cannot understand the visual or other beauty of these barricades,” exclaimed an exasperated Melo.
If Melo is unhappy about the railing, the cobblers and fruit vendors sitting on the footpath below Melo’s building are hurt over the way they were asked not to earn their daily bread during the three days of the convention.
“I was told by the police that we could not sit because the Prime Minister was coming and because of his security. This is my only business but if my absence is important for the security of the Prime minister, I have no choice,” stated one of the individuals who occupies a part of the pavement cleared by the police.
“This road looked beautiful last night but it doesn’t look the same in the morning. These lights left on the pavement are not just a health hazard but leave a bad impression,” stated Tony from England as he was searching for directions to reach the Kala Academy.
Tony from England
“I read in the papers that there is an international meet on health taking place in Goa, but am clueless about its benefits. Everyone loves to come to Goa,” winked Tony.
“Panjimites suffered quite a bit because I think there was no proper coordination between the agencies developing infrastructure for the G20 convention and Smart City. There seems to have been an overlap but the monsoons will tell,” opined Perpet Pereira as she started her bike to reach Panjim from Caranzalem.
“This full stretch looks beautiful at night after all the functions are over. Otherwise, it is a nightmare travelling to the city with the traffic bottlenecks," she added.
Health emergencies prevention, preparedness and response; strengthening cooperation in pharmaceutical sector; and digital health innovations and solutions to improve healthcare service delivery are the three spheres of health that will be deliberated in Goa during the convention.
The 2nd Working Group G20 convention in Goa is the first among the three that are supposed to be held in Goa. The meetings are to be hosted in different states of India to reflect the country's cultures.
Infrastructure in certain hinterland areas of Goa received a boost with visits planned for delegates to some historic sights.