The twin problems of overcrowding and lack of proper planning have been plaguing the once pristine city of Vasco in the Mormugao taluka. Seventy-five years of independence and the people of Vasco are yet to witness the much-promised infrastructure development by the government.
Once a city that claimed to have a high level of development, Vasco lies a city in tatters. Through the years, the city has suffered an ongoing degradation, with poor roads, the illegal growth of favelas, water scarcity and water logging during the monsoons, and overflowing sewerage lines. These visible sores lie festering and unattended by the elected representatives.
Vasco’s natural port has designated it a port town, providing employment to many over the years. The city’s airport, railway station and fishing jetty have made it extremely accessible.
The resulting migrant influx in turn has led to the mushrooming of illegal structures that have turned the city into an eyesore.
Trailing behind many cities in Goa, Vasco is one that still cannot boast of a fire station, a proper bus stand or a powerhouse despite the city having elected members from the ruling dispensation for the last many years.
Although the city still houses fuel reservoir tanks, a naval base and even an international cruise terminal, shorted-sighted planning has scuttled the possibility of any real progress.
Whereas other Goan cities have adapted to the needs of the times since the state’s liberation, Vasco appears to be mired in neglect.
Vasco was once known as the best-planned city in Goa. Despite its close proximity to the Arabian Sea, the city never experienced flooding some 50 years back due to the well-planned drainage system. Buildings, offices, fuel stations, shops and administrative offices were situated in properly planned locations.
When we look back to its past, centuries ago, Vasco was a fortified region. This is known because of the huge fortified walls which still stand tall at Sada, along the Baina Beach line.
History reveals that the then viceroy of Portugal temporarily shifted Goa's capital to Mormugao, and after realising that the fort was not centrally located, shifted his residence to Old Goa.
The surge of illegal migrants in the last 30 to 40 years, and with it an increase in illegal structures, have created an overpopulation that the city was not planned to house; neither have any provisions been made in the present.
Perhaps the celebration of the Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav in Vasco may become the catalyst needed for the port town to navigate its way to freedom from a miserable unplanned, unorganised state to a city reflecting the magnificence of a truly liberated Goa.