Public will versus govt apathy

By PACHU MENON
Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Foreign tours too have become very common nowadays.

His nomadic routine often taking him to lands hitherto unexplored, man’s ‘itinerant exploits’ have introduced him to the wonders of travelling right from the early times.

It has become much more affordable and convenient in recent years. More and more people are shedding their inhibitions and embarking on pleasure trips to various locales across the country. Foreign tours too have become very common nowadays.

Online travel portals like ‘Make My Trip’ and ‘Trip Advisor’ to name a few, have also spared no efforts in making tours and travel the most avid pastime of the modern era. Exploring new places and appreciating the beauty that nature opens out for the visitor forms the crux of any excursion.

Although many travellers love seeing famous monuments, exploring new cultures have often provided the most worthwhile travel experiences. Getting to know about the locals and their lifestyles helps the holidaymaker to get an in depth knowledge of the region.
Local food being a fundamental component of a destination’s attributes, eating traditional food and cuisine is an integral part of the travel experience for the tourist.

In more recent times, tourism has opened up new vistas that have enhanced the joys of travelling. The mountains, rivers, the sea and the beaches; all of these have been given the necessary tourism ‘makeover’ to make them all the more attractive for visitors.

Exploiting the natural bounties, the government and the stakeholders in every State have showcased the uniqueness of their land to increase the tourism footfalls in the region.

Attaining the status of an industry by itself, tourism has gradually evolved as the chief economic lifeline of many States in the country.
However, it is quite disappointing to have the same places in the State featuring as ‘exotic locales’ for years at a stretch with travel operators making little or no efforts to promote new destinations to hold the interest of the prospective tourists.

There have been several instances of foreigners touring Goa on their own ‘discovering’ scenic spots that even the locals have not been aware of. ‘Stale’ itineraries are the undoing of a system of tourism promotion that refuses to shed it tried-and-tested methods.

The need of the moment is to have innovations guiding the grandiose schemes for the new-wave tourism the State government is intent upon. But the plans need to translate into action!

However, without being sardonic, we do need to concede that no sooner a visitor sets foot in our land, he is welcomed by the pathetic sight of our roads. So much has been shown and written about the deplorable condition of the Goan roads that it pains one to see the government sitting idle on the matter for years now.

Despite the issue having become an albatross around its neck, every government that has helmed the affairs of the State in recent times has been conspicuous by its inactivity on the deteriorating scenario with regards to the State of the thoroughfares.

The heaping mounds of accumulated garbage too do not bode well for a State that heavily depends on tourism to alleviate its sinking economy.
Hence when some concerned members of the public willingly step forward to do something about these civic issues, their selfless approach to the whole matter deserves appreciation.

After its hugely popular #ROSTO campaign which sought to reduce road accidents by having speed-breakers in the State painted in white colour to increase their visibility; the citizens’ group which conceptualized the whole idea has now embarked upon another novel venture. The #KOCHRO campaign which seeks to clean up Goa of its littered garbage eyesores comes at a time when the whole state is reeling under the effects of piling garbage.

As an issue that has bothered the government, it is even more disturbing to have the public shying away from offering viable solutions to the problem at hand.

Staring at a predicament that owes its genesis to the callous attitude of the local populace and the hopelessness of an administration that has hardly bothered about effectively checking the nuisance; the garbage menace in the State threatens to evolve into a stinky affair that will soon consume the whole region.

As much as it is the responsibility of the village panchayats, municipalities and the legislators in ensuring a clean ambience of their localities; the onus is on the local residents too to wish for and work towards making their surroundings a trash-free area. But the public is yet to get over its fixation for blaming the government for all the woes that befall them. Of course, the village authorities and city fathers are both responsible in their own ways for the accumulating filth that dots the Goan landscape.

Spreading like a virus that has no known antidote to counter its risk, the garbage issue taunts both the administration and the public alike. But with a little effort from the locals couldn’t this malaise have been contained!

It is unfortunate that villagers congregate in large numbers for gram sabha meetings and heckle the elected members for the problems that assail the village. Yet why have they not thought it befitting to raise the mundane issues which have more bearing on the life of the villagers!
Should the government always be depended upon to solve civic problems when it is well within ‘public resolve’ to do away with the obnoxity? A voluntary and collective will is the need of the hour.
If a committed group of citizens can arouse public interest and earn praise from the government for their ‘community service’, one can well imagine the results if residents in each locality take up the cleaning of their areas periodically.

The motto ‘Clean Goa Clean’ should be enthusing every Goan.
In view of the government’s obsession for ‘involving’ locals in ‘projects’ undertaken by its departments, it becomes obviously evident that more than the fondness for the public actively participating in governance, it is the shortcomings within the systems that is compelling the administration to seek ‘outside’ help to check anomalies.

The traffic sentinel scheme worked because it helped police track violations which are beyond their reach. However, after the Whatsapp initiative launched by the tourism minister to ensure that garbage is promptly attended to by contractors; the tourism department’s decision to launch a mobile application to tackle illegalities on beaches appears to be a farce and an eyewash as well considering that without a monitoring mechanism in place, success will always elude such ‘creative enterprises’.

Nonetheless, with members of the public having no reservations in extending a helping hand to the authorities as and when requested, it does appear that ‘public participation’ in matters that challenge the administration can definitely have a telling effect on the outcome.
Till such time that these attempts are whole-hearted, the society will have to make do with the determined endeavours of the select few who are taking it upon themselves to complete tasks that even the government finds daunting.
Hats off to them!

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