Category Archives: News launches Support Sitara Devi Online Petition






March 24, 2014; Mumbai: The Craftsmen, Artistes & Designers Promotion Forum or CADPF – a newly-formed NGO has decided to take up the cause of octogenarian and Padmashree Sitara Devi’s demand for a Dance Academy in Mumbai.

Kathak exponent and and a student of Sitara Devi’s daughter Jayantimala – Ranjana Bhattacharya of the CADPF said, “For decades since the late 1970s, 94-year-old Kathak Queen Padmashree Sitara Devi has been demanding a decent sized plot of land in or around Mumbai to start a residential dance academy to educate students both in Classical and modern styles of dance. She has met hundreds of politicians, collectors and even private individuals and corporate CEOs to support her dream but her demands have fallen on deaf years. The 94-year-old-plus Sitara Devi has been living in Mumbai for over 80 years now and while politicians and businessmen have been allocated plots over the years, this dancing legend has been sidelined and ignored.”

The CADPF has launched an online petition with a signature collection drive  located at and requested all lovers of all forms of dance and particularly Kathak to join this campaign to demand a professional and independent Dance Academy in Mumbai comparable to the best in the World.

To support this campaign and to SUPPORT SITARA DEVIs demand for an Independent Dance Academy in Mumbai go to and leave your comments. Please mention your full name, location and email id to ensure that your submission is valid. Your comment with your correct full name, location and email id will be counted as one vote.





Rahul Gandhi kick starts Congress party’s functioning with an eye on polls

By Martin De Souza – GNN

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is all set to tone up the functioning of the Congress party doing away with the old system of one-line resolutions from states authorizing the high command to decide candidates in the elections. Sources in the central Congress war-room say that Rahul is taking keen interest in the functioning of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and some drastic announcements are likely.

Congress sources said Rahul, who has called a meeting of PCC presidents and CLP leaders in Delhi on February 15, could instead ask for elaborate procedures to make ticket distribution a foolproof affair.

This will be the first meeting Rahul will have with state leaders after his elevation as the Congress vice-president. He has often lamented the absence of rules and regulations governing the organization and the ticket distribution process. Apparently, Churchhill Alemao has already sent feelers to the Congress Vice President that he is keen on contesting the Lok Sabha polls from south Goa.

Consultations by the Congress vice-president are expected to be a day-long affair at a time when party men have been increasingly voicing concern over the ticket distribution process. The meeting assumes significance as Assembly elections of nine states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, are scheduled this year and the Lok Sabha elections are not far away.

As part of the efforts to build up a new leadership at various levels, the AICC has already decided that the number of terms for presidents of the PCC and DCC should be restricted to two and the tenure of each term should be not more than three years.

Rahul is expected to apprise himself with the various problems being faced by the party in different states to help understand the steps needed to tone up the organisations there.

Soon after being made the Vice-President, he has held three rounds of consultations with AICC office bearers.

Though Congress is in power in a dozen odd states, Andhra Pradesh is the only major state where it has a government on its own. Problems have cropped up there due to the Telangana issue and emergence of the YSR Congress.

Congress is out of power for several years in major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu – a cause for concern for the new Vice President.

Two new “Non Congress” voices are being considered for the post of spokesperson of the grand old party. Tehseen Poonawalla and Sanjay Jha are the two names doing the rounds. Both Tehseen and Sanjay are seen on prime time news toeing the Congress line. While Poonawalla a Muslim face is in his late 20s who connects with the youth, Sanjay’s experience in running the portal Hamara Congress as well as his business connections may make him attractive to the business community. The think tank in the Congress feels that the party has in recent times not been able to reflect the sentiments of the young and business class who seem to be disillusioned with the party. A little birdie told us that both Poonawalla and Jha are extensively consulting the Congress leadership on how to position itself online and on the social media.


Non-Congress Voices for the post of party spokesperson?


Close on the heels of a reshuffle in the top echelons of the Nationalist Congress Party, Goa leadership, We have learnt that the Congress at the Centre is believed to be going in for a complete image makeover.

In anticipation of the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress party has got very aggressive online and launched several internet and social media initiatives to cater to a new and younger India -those in the know of things say that an AICC reshuffle is soon on the cards as also a CWC make over.

Rahul Gandhi and his team are keen to get their “own people” in positions of authority. Also on the cards is a reshuffle in the official spokespersons of the Congress Party. Under the chairmanship of Digvijaya Singh, a media committee has been formed that is looking at media and publicity strategies for the upcoming general elections.

It seems that two new “Non Congress” voices are being considered for the post of spokesperson of the grand old party. Tehseen Poonawalla and Sanjay Jha are the two names doing the rounds. Both Tehseen and Sanjay are seen on prime time news toeing the Congress line. While Poonawalla a Muslim face is in his late 20s who connects with the youth, Sanjay’s experience in running the portal Hamara Congress as well as his business connections may make him attractive to the business community. The think tank in the Congress feels that the party has in recent times not been able to reflect the sentiments of the young and business class who seem to be disillusioned with the party. A little birdie told us that both Poonawalla and Jha are extensively consulting the Congress leadership on how to position itself online and on the social media.

Tehseen Poonawalla

Tehseen Poonawalla




Inter-state bus operators triple fares for Goa Carnival, leave thousands disappointed, says SpeakGoa


At least 15,000 youth from Mumbai unable to attend Goa Carnival 2013 due to non-availability of reasonably priced transport on Thursday and Friday – SpeakGoa Survey in Mumbai


South Goa Congress MP  Francisco Sardinha hits out at CCP and CM Manohar Parrikar for lack of inter-state travel arrangements for the Carnival.


Estimated Rs 5 crore loss in overall business in Goa during Carnival 2013 due to scarcity of reasonably priced transport – SpeakGoa study.



Saturday, February 09, 2013, Panjim, Goa: Thousands of Mumbaikars and Goan youth working in Mumbai are stranded and unable to attend the Carnival celebrations in their home state over the weekend for lack of available transport. The AC and non-AC tourist bus operators have more than doubled the fares and some bus operators were charging Rs 2500-Rs 3000 for an AC Volvo bus semi-sleeper bus ticket from Mumbai to Goa. The normal fare is Rs 700 to Rs 800 and can go as low as Rs 500 on non-peak week days. However, the bus operators like Neeta Volvo, VRL and many others were charging nothing less than Rs 1200 even for those who booked the tickets a week in advance. On Thursday, the fare went up to Rs 1800 per seat and on Friday evening some travel agents who had tickets available were charging up to Rs 2500 per seat. The rate for a Volvo sleeper seat from Borivili in suburban Mumbai to Goa was quoted at Rs 3000, says Salvador De Costa of SpeakGoa who conducted a survey in the Goan-dominated areas of Mumbai like Borivili and Dhobi Talao at Marine Lines.

The results of a survey and study conducted by SpeakGoa shows that approximately the State of Goa will loose Rs 5 crore in overall business in the coming week due to the scarcity of good, reasonably priced inter-state connectivity during the Goa Carnival 2013 and about 15,000 to 25,000 youth from Mumbai who would have loved to be in Goa over the weekend could not make it only due to the non availability of reasonably priced transport. Youngsters earning approximately Rs 25,000 a month in Mumbai cannot afford to pay 20 per cent of their month’s salary only on travel. Even those who made it to Goa have drastically reduced their expenditure in Goa.

According to SpeakGoa, there are over 50,000 Goan youngsters who work in Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore in call centres and financial services sector. Most of these youth wanted to attend the Carnival celebrations in the State but were unable to make it due to the last minute hike in bus fares, opined De Costa. SpeakGoa will submit a memorandum to the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Minister and the Chief Minister’s office on Monday, De Costa added.

When SpeakGoa brought this to the notice of South Goa Congress MP Francisco Sardinha he said, “The BJP-led State Government is to blame for the non-availability of cheap transport for Goans working in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. The Government should have approached the Centre or the Railways and arranged for a few special trains from Bangalore and Mumbai which should have been well-publicized in advance to enable Goans to make bookings. During election rallies and other political events, all political parties arrange buses to ferry supporters. Why couldn’t the CCP or the Carnival Committee in conjunction with the Department of Tourism arrange special buses from Mumbai to Goa. SpeakGoa figures show that its not just Goans but the state has been deprived of at least two lakh tourists from all over India who would have loved to attend the Carnival celebrations provided reasonably priced transport could have been made available over the weekend. “On one hand we crib that there are not enough quality tourists but we make no attempts to help them get reasonably priced transport and accommodation,” Sardinha said. Several other MLAs both from the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in Goa admitted that the travel fares were a huge deterrent to the medium-budget Indian tourist and was a cause for concern.

SpeakGoa will file a PIL in the High Court of Bombay at Goa on the predatory pricing tactics employed by inter-state Tourist Bus operators during the Goa Carnival and during the Christmas and New Year season. These operators double and triple the rates, creating a black market for tickets instead of trying to match the demand for seats by temporarily increasing the number of buses on the sector. “These tourists’ and travel operators are killing the goose that lays the golden egg when it comes to tourism in Goa. Traveling fares have become so expensive that tourists have to spend more on travel than what they would spend on staying in Goa for 2-3 days. An air ticket from Mumbai to Goa even on a low cost airline was Rs 12,000 per person on Friday making it impossible even for the medium budget tourist to fly to Goa for the Carnival. Full service airlines were charging Rs 15,000 on Thursday, on Friday the Mumbai-Goa fare went up to Rs 18,000/-, said De Costa. How will Goa get more tourists, if the to-and-fro fares are so high and the State does not do anything about it, demanded SpeakGoa?


SpeakGoa survey finds 30 per cent ill-trained dentists practicing in Goa


Saturday, February 02, 2013; Panjim, Goa: A comprehensive survey conducted by social forum SpeakGoa across the length and breadth of Goa has found several dentists and dental clinics with inadequately and ill-trained dentists offering advanced dental services in Goa and charging clients at their own whims and fancy. The survey was conducted among the beach areas of North and South Goa, particularly Candolim, Calangute, Baga and included the cities of Panaji, Margao, Ponda and Vasco. About 150 dentists were interviewed by SpeakGoa and it was found that several dentists who have a basic bacherlor’s or BDS qualification practice and offer implants and claim to be experts in implantology when they are not qualified to do so.

Most dentists interviewed by SpeakGoa preferred to speak off-record, however, a very senior dentist who has a doctorate in the subject, besides being a researcher and has been a faculty at the Goa Dental College said, “A dentist who is a BDS and took 8 years to complete her BDS (after failing 4 times) is now offering implants in the Candolim area at her clinic. A BDS is not trained to offer or do implants unless he or she does a comprehensive course or a post graduation in dentistry.” He came down heavily on “businessmen” running dental clinics in the beach belt of North Goaand even counseling patients. A senior official from the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry when informed by SpeakGoa about the situation which is also affecting tourists who are “conned” as the failure rate of implants increases greatly, said there was a meeting of senior doctors and dentists at the GCCI recently and they took up this issue of “ill-trained doctors, dentists and so-called cosmetic experts”. This is earning Goa a bad name abroad and Dental Tourism has come to a virtual standstill due to the problem of quacks and ill-trained doctors, he said.

In its survey and report on Medical Tourism in Goa, SpeakGoa found that Beauty Salons, Spas, Hair-Cutting Salons and others including GPs offering Botox services and other cosmetic surgery-related services in several parts of Goa when they are not qualified to do so. About 30 per cent of dentists in Goa are technically not qualified to offer or do implants but are still doing so, the SpeakGoa report claims. Director General of GCCI R S Kamat concurred that some salons are offering Botox treatment or even bust implants. “We have appealed to the government to formulate a regulation with respect to dental implants, Botox treatments etc and to lay down guidelines on what are the minimum qualifications for a professional required to offer services like dental implants or Botox treatments in the state. Says Prof. (Dr.) Aquaviva S. Fernandes, “Yes it is true that several dentists who are ill-trained and ill-qualified offering implants and other services. A dentist with a BDS – who may have taken years to pass his or her BDS starts practice and offers advanced treatment. Many of them are financed by businessmen who set up and finance clinics in the beach belt.”

Several dentists who spoke to SpeakGoa concurred with this trend which is growing particularly in the beach belts of Goa. Another senior dentist with about 20 years of practice in Goa said, “Besides ill-qualified dentists, there is the problem of quacks who come from other states and set up shop for a few peak months of the tourist season. The clinics are operated by business men and each year there is a new dentist practicing at the clinic.” The senior dentists called for a dedicated association to look into the matter and both self-regulation by the industry as well as government regulation on a war footing.

Goa CM Manohar Parrikar: Alemao supported fake degrees racket

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Wednesday accused former PWD minister Churchill Alemao of patronising a fake degree racket, recently busted by police, saying the illegalities eroded the sanctity of the department.

“Alemao, during his tenure as PWD minister, was directing various candidates to this academy (which operated the racket), giving fake certificates before recruiting them as engineers in PWD department”, Parrikar said in his reply to a question on affairs of PWD Department in Legislative Assembly. The crime branch recently exposed the racket after raiding a private academy in Margao.

According to police, the racketeers used to provide bogus educational certificates, purportedly of various recognised universities, including the Board of Secondary Education, Gwalior.

“The bogus certificates were bought from this academy by candidates who have now become engineers”, Parrikar said, adding that the illegalities committed by Alemao has eroded the sanctity of PWD department. Alemao, a senior Congress leader was PWD minister in Digambar Kamat-led government.


Goa’s Selaulim Dam reservoir may be open for water sports

Panaji, Jan 29: The Selaulim Dam reservoir that supplies potable and irrigation water to 80 per cent of Goa may now double up as a water sports tourist attraction, the State Legislative Assembly was told here today.

State Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar told the House that there exists a good potential to develop water sports in the reservoir, located in Sanguem taluka of South Goa.

“Such a possibility can be explored after conducting joint study with the officials from department of tourism, water resources department and national institute of water sports,” Parulekar said.

He said that the feasibility report on developing the place for water sports is expected to be completed before November 2013.

The five-day assembly session began on Monday.


Mining lobby attacks Goa Governor for ignoring their plight

Panaji: The mining lobby on Wednesday attacked Goa Governor Bharat Veer Wanchoo, calling him an “agent” of the Central government and accusing him of being callous to those affected by the ban on iron ore mining in Goa.

Lobbyists seeking revocation of the ban on iron ore mining in the state spoke to reporters after Wanchoo “snubbed” the pro-mining lobby protesters who have been camping near the Martyrs’ Memorial here for the last two weeks.
Mining lobby attacks Goa Governor for ignoring their plight

On Wednesday morning, the Governor and other leading political dignitaries, including Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, arrived at the memorial in the capital to pay their tributes to Goa’s freedom fighters. However, the Governor returned to Raj Bhavan without speaking to protesters at the site.

“He did not have the courtesy to address us. We have been protesting here for the last two weeks. The Governor is not concerned about the sufferings of the people of his state,” Communist Party of India (CPI) state general secretary Christopher Fonseca told reporters here.

Fonseca heads the Goa Mining Affected People’s Front, which is protesting the loss of jobs caused by the Supreme Court-imposed mining ban. Fonseca also said that the Goa government was not taking convincing steps to resolve the mining crisis in the state.

Mining lobby attacks Goa Governor for ignoring their plight

“It has been four months since the ban has been in place. The government has not given a single convincing argument to the Supreme Court to ensure that the ban is removed,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca’s comments come only a couple of days after the Governor, in his inaugural address to the Goa Legislative Assembly, said that the Manohar Parrikar-led state government was working to introduce a financial package for people living in the mining belt, who had lost employment due to the mining ban.

The package involves giving out monthly dole to the tune of Rs 6,000 per head to those who have lost their mining jobs. The dole, however, has been criticised by the Opposition, which has said that instead of dishing out money, the state government should crack down on mining companies to ensure that workers are not laid off without any pressing reason.



Mopa Airport: Process begins for green signal to proposed airport at Mopa in Goa

PANAJI: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has started the process of giving clearance to the proposed greenfield airport at Mopa in Goa, the state Assembly was informed today.

“The matter was discussed at the meeting of the Environment Ministry on January 28. There are further studies which are still required and they would be taken now,” Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Assembly.

Independent legislator Vijay Sardesai had raised the issue of environment clearance to the airport at Mopa, about 70 km from here.

The MLA, who heads the movement involving locals against the airport, claimed that various preconditions suggested by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had been ignored by the Goa government which appears in a hurry to go ahead with the project.

“ICAO had suggested that a comprehensive strategy should be put in place before going ahead with the project as another airport already exists in the state,” Sardesai said.

The Chief Minister, quoting an ICAO report published in 2007, said there was a need to have two airports in Goa as the existing one at Dabolim would get saturated due to increasing flow of passenger traffic in the tourist state.

Parrikar rejected the notion that Mopa airport would benefit Maharashtra, more than Goa, due to its close proximity with the neighbouring state.

“The airport is 25 kms away from Maharashtra border,” he said and requested the Assembly Speaker to allow half an hour debate on the issue so that “Goa Government’s stand on the issue can be clarified”.


CM Manohar Parrikar pacifies fishing trawler owners in Goa – Govt offers subsidy on diesel

Goa Newz Network

The Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government in Goa today assured the agitating fishing trawler owners in the State that they would be given subsidy on diesel, the price of which was recently hiked by the Centre.

The trawler owners had anchored their vessels since Saturday protesting against Rs 11 per litre hike effected by the Central government on bulk purchase of diesel. From 29th January all unions and associations of fishing workers in Goa joined the strike causing a huge shortage of the essential commodity in the State. Prices of meat and poultry sky-rocketed in Goa on Monday and Tuesday with most restaurants running out of sea food in the capital city of Panaji. Fishing trawlers from all the coastal states like Maharashtra and Karnataka had called a strike to protest against the decision of the Oil companies to re-classify fishing as an industrial activity instead of an agricultural activity further adding to the shortage of fish in the entire western coastal belt of India.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the assembly that the government would give subsidy to trawler owners on diesel purchases and asked the trawler owners to purchase from retail outlets. The mechanism is yet to be announced.

The issue was raised by BJP legislator Benjamin D’Silva on the floor of the House.
Parrikar said,”Agitation by trawler owners is pan-India. We will try to ensure that the Goan fishermen are at comfort and they will not have to suffer due to the hike imposed by the Central government,”.

Goa has 1,200 trawlers operating from five different jetties and fishing is the third largest segment of economic activity in the state after mining and tourism. The tourism industry is heavily dependent on the fish catch as almost 50 per cent of the foreign tourists prefer sea food to red meats in Goa.

The shortfall in the supply of fish has had a collateral effect on vegetables and milk products which also saw a hefty increase in price over the last two days. Many tourists from Maharashtra and north India were shocked at the price of fish and decided to go in for a vegetarian or chicken menu thus increasing the demand for vegetables and chicken. Wholesalers and distributors of vegetables, meat and poultry products decided to make hay while the sun shines and hiked the prices of food stuff forcing establishments to pay more.

While it is not sure if the governments of the neightbouring states will offer the fishing community in their respective states the same subsidy, but the astute and seasoned politician Manohar Parrikar has won his party brownie points among the Goan populace with his quick response to the pressing issue.