Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Increase green cover in mining belt: Prez


President of India Pratibha Devsingh Patil today called for measures for improving green cover in the areas affected by mining and for maintaining Goa’s reputation as a tourist destination.
Responding to a civic reception held in her honour at NIO auditorium at Dona Paula, the President also spoke about upgrading standard of education at all levels and mooted an educational hub for Goa.

Stating that Goa is renowned for its scenic beauty, its rich architectural heritage, its vibrant culture and its diverse flora and fauna, the President said this is what has made Goa a tourist destination attracting both domestic and foreign visitors. Maintaining its reputation as a tourist destination, she said, would be important for the State whose economy in a big way is dependent on tourism.

For this, what is required is “a continuous focus on developing and maintaining the tourism infrastructure, looking after the safety of tourists, as well as hospital service sector by all the stakeholders.” She also hoped that efforts would also be made to conserve and preserve the unique natural environment of Goa which would promote eco-tourism while making reference to the water falls, wildlife sanctuaries, and the forest cover.

The President felt that Goa should have a re-look of the forest management. “We must look at better management of our forests, which have wide diversity of flora and fauna including medicinal plants”, she said pointing out that they can be important in generating social, economic and environmental benefits.

The President also suggested that more afforestation efforts should be undertaken in areas where mining has occurred.

While congratulating Goa for having good indicators of health and education, she called for efforts to enhance these facilities.

In her 13-minute speech, she said the aim should be 100 per cent literacy and upgradation of standard of education at all levels, to produce skilled workers with higher levels of productivity.
She suggested that the State government should look at developing Goa into an educational hub which will attract institutes of excellence at various levels of diverse sectors.

She however, had a word of caution for the young people. “While it’s our duty to provide education and skills to the young people, they too must be responsible”. Stating that there is a tendency to consume drugs among the youth, she urged them to be cautious. She felt they should be made aware of the negative fall-outs of drug consumption through awareness campaigns.

On the employment front, the President favoured a pragmatic and employment-oriented vision for the youth in the new, emerging and growing sectors like IT, biotech and pharmaceuticals among others besides self-employment.

While Goa is turning more urban, the President reminded Goa of proper planning. “Provision of civic amenities, systematic urban planning and proper urban governance are important to have clean and livable cities”.

For this, she made it clear that the onus is not just on the government authorities but also on those living there. “Every inhabitant has a role to play and I have great confidence that the people of the State would work together to keep Goa clean, to maintain its heritage, its beauty and its healthy environment”. The President also stressed that rural areas should also develop along with urban centres.

Stating that Goa has been contributing to the development of the nation in many ways, she expressed hope that the state would continue to do so.

Earlier, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, Governor Dr S S Sidhu, Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Panchayats Minister Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar, Mayor Caroline Po also spoke.

Herald, 24 November 2009, Panaji

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