BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant ordered a vigilance inquiry into the manner work at Kala Academy was being carried out, and the collapse of the open-air roof of the auditorium is an appetiser of what is to come.
Soon after the collapse of the roof and other parts, Minister of Culture Govind Gaude began a rant, trying to disassociate himself from the mishap.
He was not very convincing as he tried to justify why the work was carried out without the issuance of tenders by trying to awaken the ghost of Shah Jahan.
Kala Academy has been under renovation for years, with deadlines for completion shifting and the minister for culture unable to comprehend that in professional set-ups goalposts are not shifted, but the goalkeeper is.
After the collapse of the roof, Govind Gaude claimed that the roof of the open-air auditorium was not part of the renovation, little realising that in this way he was trying to defend the indefensible because the roof that collapsed is part of Kala Academy, and the work was initiated to renovate the entire structure, not just parts of it.
The disgust among the junior and assistant engineers in the PWD is evident after the collapse of the roof because by now they do not seem to be in the mood to take the flak for something they are not involved in ie. condoning the substandard work carried out by contractors with eyes and ears in the minister’s office.
If Kala Academy is an eyesore, the manner the 37th National Games is being organised is growing to be another dampener, and it is being organised by another ministry run by Govind.
Unlike, Kala Academy – where the cat is already out of the bag – red flags are being raised in the conducting of the National Games.
The matter came to the fore when a group of sports associations went with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Shripad Naik and met the chief minister, complaining that funds were not being released to start preparing the athletes.
At that time, Sports Minister Govind Gaude had with great pomp, created by expensive marketing agencies, declared that athletes from Goa would be given the best of facilities to train for the National Games and that apart from a ninety-day camp, associations would be entitled to hire the services of the best coaches available.
The truth is there is not enough money to put the plans in place, because the money allocated for the same has already been spent on refurbishing the infrastructure in place when it was not necessary.
Unfortunately, the moolah is in repairs, and therefore, places that did not need repairs were put through the charade that they needed attention, and hence sports associations needed to meet the chief minister.
There was a time when it looked like Govind Gaude’s time was up because it appeared evident that he had bitten more than he could chew. Somehow, he has managed to get officers who raised red flags transferred and replaced by cronies, and managed to keep his show going.
No doubt, corruption has become a way of life that will need decades to cleanse the system of, because it is embedded in it, but getting crass is taking it to another level.
When the staff becomes demoralised, it is not a good sign, and Govind should be aware and alert about its ramifications.
That Chief Minister Pramod Sawant appears hesitant to act on the shenanigans of his minister, or prefers to wait and watch while the drama unfolds, also sends another wrong signal to the people of Goa that he is complacent and perhaps party to the corruption.
And this is not what the electorate would want to believe. As said before, corruption is getting to be a way of life – a life enjoyed by a few.
There has to be a limit, and that can at least be set by the chief minister.