At a meeting held in Mollem village, specifically with regards to the high-power transmission line expected to be constructed, along with a power sub-station at Sangod in Mollem, PWD minister Deepak Pauskar erupted into a war of words with local villagers and others, in what has triggered widespread anger on social media.
The PWD Minister had visited the village along with Power Minister Nilesh Cabral to address the people and listen to their concerns with regards to the proposed project passing through the village.
However, besides certain queries and concerns being addressed, the PWD minister also got furious at people asking him certain questions pertaining to the cutting of trees.
In a viral video, one local questioned the minister about the trees cut for the sub-station at Sangod area, adding that this will result in animals and other wildlife – which usually depend on these forests for their survival – to make entry into villages and fields, thereby risking the lives of the communities living in these areas.
However, when responding, the minister said, “I am saying, besides the part about cutting trees, see the rest”, which prompted locals to interject and ask the reason for that. The minister however got furious and began screaming at the locals, shouting at many to ‘keep quiet’.
This was followed by social activist Cecille Rodrigues telling the minister ‘not to shout’. In an utterly disgraceful manner, the minister, in a high-pitched tone says “You just shut up” to her.
This prompted several arguments about the minister’s conduct which was totally unwelcomed for. Furthermore, the minister also claimed that the meeting was for the villagers and not for others (non-residents of the village of Sangod and Mollem).
This led to a huge uproar, with many questioning the behavior of the minister while responding to people’s questions. Also, people said that the project – besides affecting the villages of Mollem – will also affect the entire state of Goa, and as such, people’s participation from across this state for this meeting was needed.
“Is this the way to talk to the public. They should not forget that we elected you (MLA’s) as our representatives and should act as a public servant and not a dictator,” said Sainath Gawas on social media.
The official page of Save Mollem also criticized the minister’s behavior saying, “We are speechless at this behavior displayed by PWD minister Deepak Puskar. The elected representatives had no straight answers to this villager’s question about the projects.”
“There was no decency when the minister was answering, and shouting at the public who have elected you is a complete disgrace from this leader,” said another local, stating that the minister should be apologetic about his behavior.
The PWD minister’s behavior with the public comes as a major embarrassment to the state government as the ruling BJP has failed to take the local people into consideration when initiating the process for these projects; and now when questioned, the minister has hit back in an impolite manner.
The police had to intervene to prevent any untoward incident at the meeting later.
“Till today the company has no answers as to where exactly the towers will be placed and where the electricity will be sent. This is a complete failure and both ministers today had no answers at all,” said an activist.
Furthermore, the minister also claimed the project would create around 100 jobs for the locals, but many argue that this will be ‘temporary jobs’ till the project is completed and no long-term benefits exist for the locals.
Claiming that ten times the number of trees will be planted in place of those cut, the ground reality is very different, as many have exposed the state’s incompetent attitude towards this initiative.