TiTs & BiTs (018)
And, the programme on Occupational Safety, Health & Environment, Goa which Goasuraj jointly helped to organize in association with the "Institute of Safety & Risk Management", Panjim, at Hotel La Paz , Vasco, last evening (Sat. 7th sept) was a resounding success, in that all of 50 persons did make it , when we were under the impression that, Vasco, being a time bomb, which could blow up anytime, given the attitude of the government and the industry, on safety related matters, there would be no chairs to accommodate the wild rush.
And sorry to say that out of 20 odd municipal councilors, who were especially invited, (thanks to the efforts of Mr. Simon D’Souza , ex- Speaker of GLA), none turned up except for Mr. Simon D’Souza himself, who sat in for his councilor wife. And, it was also heartening to have the presence of 2 Sarpanches, Mr. Vaz of Velsao and Mr. Gawda of Sancoale, through the efforts of the dynamic Cansaulim Sarpanch, Ms. Martha Saldanha, who could’nt make it herself, due to her tight schedule.
It was again heartening to see that the upcoming HYAT REGENCY at Cansaulim saw it fit to depute its Chief Engineer Mr. S.K. Varma to check-out the programme, and, in Mr. Varma’s own words “excellent presentation” was sufficiently heart-warming.
And we were pleasantly surprised to have with us Mr. Bandodkar, the Vasco Municipal Engineer, who has voiced quite some concerns for the Vasco city’s pollution, lack of safety and its garbage treatment process.
If it was a rabble-rousing political meeting, the entire Vasco would have been crowding to get to see and hear the rabble rousers. But to know a thing or two about saving their own skin, it is too much trouble for the people. As usual, learning through mistakes, is what I feel, people are waiting for. But then the gross mistakes of Bhopal even fails to be the eye-openers. Cdr.(retd) Narayanan, editor of Vasco Watch was one disappointed man with respect to the turn-out. “I came early at 3.30 p.m.” he said “thinking that I might get no place to sit”.
Vasco Watch did give the programme the front page treat with its 6000 odd copies distributed throughout the length and breadth of Vasco. Our press release w.r.t. the programme had been personally delivered to all the major news papers in Goa with acknowledgements. “Gomantak Times” did put out its own sweet version, where, the entire effect was lost. “Herald” saw it fit to include it in the day’s events on 7 Sept. as a one liner. So much for the concern that our esteemed 4th. Estate has for "Safety" of the general public, which is their own readership.
To get back to the programme itself, after the short introductory, welcome and thank you delivery by this writer as one of the programme initiators, on behalf of Goa Environmental Action Group and Goa Su-Raj party, the entire slide presentation was delivered by Mr. C.V. Dhume, Director, Institute of Safety & Risk Management and ex-Chief Inspector, Factories & Boilers, (retd) govt. of Goa. The presentation covered the past major disasters of France, U.K., Bhopal etc. with graphic details of plant failures and man made mistakes, leading to the disasters, their effects and casualties. The slide presentation, as commented by practically all present, was flawless, professional and vastly informative. This was followed by a 10-minute video clip on do’s and don’ts on various aspects on industrial safety, prepared by the Manali Fertilizer, Tamil Nadu, for the general awareness of safety procedures for the public in case of accidents. It complimented the slide presentation and was well appreciated.
At the interactive session which followed, the one aspect of this presentation, when it came to our God’s own Goa was the finger pointed at the outdated “Horton’s Sphere” ammonia storage tank at Vasco. God forbid, if this goes up, Mr. Dhume explained, it will affect a radius of 10 kilometers around Vasco within 8.6 minutes flat. That covers far away places like Betalbatim to Bambolim, including the good Goa Medical College. And the quality of the On-site, Off-site safety plans, if there are any, and which, in all probability, must be locked-up in the District Collector’s cupboards, coupled with the state of preparedness and awareness that the Vascoites, Betalbatim-ites , Bambolim-ites, and in general, Goan-ites are in, in case this Horton’s Sphere decides to take to the air one fine unsuspecting day, there would be no trenches enough to bury the dead. You must forgive me for being the Goa’s NOSTRADAMUS, but this eventuality cannot be overlooked, like the "Ostrich". And when it hits us, we shall be caught with out pants down and cursing the very God that we are presently reposing our faith in, saying “God is Great” One must remember that God helps those who help themselves.
Many persons attending the programme reasoned out that the low turn-out was due to Vasco being a floating city with very small, indigenous, concerned, population. In case of a severe disaster, the floating population would just take off, never to return. Others reasoned that GOA itself was on its way to becoming a floating State, and, and whether this was sufficient reason for the government and the government authorities entrusted with the safety of the public, to slumber. While yet others reasoned that nothing will move were there are no votes to be bagged.
The onus of GOA’s deplorable “INDUSTRIAL SAFETY” and pollution control measures was heaped on the Goa Government itself, and not the Industry. The industry is considered as “LAW ABIDING” . And why ever not? The Industry gets all the clearances that are required under the law to set it up. Is it not? And who gives the Industry those clearances? Is it not the Government? The sitting of the atmospheric ammonia tank within 50 meters of the residential and commercial areas at Vasco has the required clearance, whereas, infact it must be sitted at a minimum distance of 1 kilometer, as per the Bombay High Court Judgement.. And we expect the same people who filled their pockets or enjoy the employment benefits, in this exercise of giving the clearance, to attend the “safety” programmes or take up the safety issues??
In conclusion, the encouragement given by Mr. R.P Bhanushali, Technical Adviser, National Safety Council, in his par excellence summation, will hopefully kindle hope in some of the more conscious citizens of Vasco to organize themselves in their very own interests, and knock at, and if required, knock down, the insensitive doors of the government to assert their rights to a safe and un-polluted living.
The thank you note, on behalf of the Council of Occupational Safety, Health & Environment, Goa. was given by Mr. U.R. Shenoy, its Vice President, and Works Manager (retd) CIBA SPECIALTY CHEMICALS.
The Institute of Safety & Risk Management has come out with a beautifully compiled “EMERGENCY PROCEDURES FOR YOUR SAFETY” booklet with graphic illustrations which is simple to understand and a must for every household, government offices, schools and other educational institutions etc. Since the leaflet is foreworded by none other than Mr. Manohar Parrikar, the Honourable Chief Minister of Goa, himself, the least the Government of Goa can do is to subsidise the distribution of this unique leaflet for mass awareness of safety procedures.
And, again, I do hope, that the very action of “FOREWORDING” a fine booklet like the above, scratches the Chief Conscience of the Chief Minister, enough, to put things right in respect of ‘INDUSTRIAL SAFETY” in Goa on a war footing, rather than expending his energies in depriving a few loser colleagues of his in the Assembly of their vote banks through his brainchild “The Municipal Corporation Bill for Panjim City” which is getting deader by the day in the rough waters it is bouncing in.