VASCO: Kadamba Transport Corporation Ltd (KTCL) chairman and Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida on Tuesday demanded public apology from South Western Railway (SWR) general manager Ajay Kumar Singh over his alleged Portuguese remarks. Carlos said that he will stand his colleague Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha on the two issues ie laying railways double track and the insulting language used by Singh against the elected representative. Carlos mentioned that what Singh spoke was in bad taste and if the former minister late Matanhy Saldanha was alive, Singh would have known what the consequences could be of talking in an insulting manner with the MLA. He recalled that during the meeting with railway officials the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had asked the railway authorities to give details of total number of houses that would be affected and names of its owners from Vasco constituency but till date the SWR had not submitted any such details. He alleged that the SWR officials were deliberately avoiding to give these details and had also failed to mention benefit of double tracking for Goans.
The Vasco MLA claimed that the houses belonging to Goans existed much before SWR started its operations in the State. Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha was right in her points that the houses situated along the railway track were heritage houses and nearly 500 years old. How can the SWR general manager Ajay Kumar Singh call her a non Goan? Carlos asked demanding public apology from Singh. "We are with railways but this is not the way of talking to elected representatives. South western railway general manager has to publicly apologise to MLA Alina Saldanha or we will have to raise protest against Singh," warned Carlos. It may be recalled that on Sunday, Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha along with Cansaulim-Arossim-Cuelim sarpanch Martha Saldanha and others had gone to the Vasco railway station to meet the general manager and oppose the double tracking of railways lines in the Cortalim constituency. During discussion, Singh maintained that SWR will stand by the decisions taken by both, the Central and State governments to go ahead with the doubling of railway track from the Hubbali section to the Vasco railway station even as Alina told him that doubling of tracks, which pass through several villages in Cortalim would lead to destruction of environment and houses, rendering people homeless. It was then Singh remarked, "India has houses that are 5000 years old. Goans were the invading force who came about 500 years back. When you all came, you also must have destroyed houses here. By you I meant Portuguese."
The Cortalim MLA took strong objection to Singh using the word 'Portuguese' while referring to her and the people of Cortalim constituency and threatened to take up the issue with the Government of India. Singh later apologised and withdrew the "Portuguese" word. Singh was in Goa to inaugurate the 100-feet-tall flag-post erected at the Subrai Joshi Chowk, opposite the Vasco railway station. He also inspected some of the railway stations between Hubbali and Vasco and checked safety parameters of railways, bridges and tracks.