With the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, flights by Russian airlines have been suspended, which is a big blow to Goa’s charter season, as the same was already struggling due to a slowdown in bookings from Russian destinations due to the pandemic. Charter arrivals from Russian destinations last till mid-May, but resumptions of flights in April will depend on the normalisation of the situation between Russia and Ukraine.
Vice President of Concord, Sheikh Ismail stated that if the war stops, a few flights would arrive in May and though they are still getting bookings, they were comparatively less as compared to the previous years.
Currently the State is receiving charters from Kazakhstan only, once a week.
Ralph De Sousa, President of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that all operators from Russia take charters on lease and if due to the sanctions a fleet of charters leased to operators in Russia are withdrawn, it will be a problem for these operators. Goa used to receive tourists from Belarus, Georgia and other CIS countries, but it is unlikely that these tourists will come as they are too close to the warring countries.
The announcement of the Indian Government to restart international flights after a gap of two years, from March 27, may bring some footfalls to Goa but again that will depend on the war, industry sources said.
Goa relaxes all Covid norms for businesses but wearing masks is compulsory
As covid cases have dropped in the state, the state government has permitted all activities to be carried out at a full capacity, including schools, casinos, cinema halls, multiplexes, theatres, auditoriums, large closed-business establishments, spas, massage parlours and swimming pools among others, subject to adherence to covid protocol. The government also stopped covid tests at state borders, airports, railway stations and ports.
Revenue Secretary, Ramesh Varma, in his order, said that the prescribed seating capacity of a cinema hall shall not be exceeded and only covid vaccination-eligible persons with two doses or with a covid-negative report will be allowed entry.
The order also said that all persons will be checked at the entrance for fever with thermal scanners. Also, hand sanitisers will have to be provided and that all persons should compulsorily wear face masks at all times during a show.
The order said that physical distance of 2m shall be maintained between persons, and that halls and rest rooms be sanitised frequently.
Regarding entry into Goa he said that only those with both doses or a negative report for a test done a maximum of 72 hours prior to entry or those entering for medical emergencies on production of proof, shall be allowed.
Schools are permitted to conduct physical classes for all levels of schools and colleges with 100% of its seating capacity subject to the separate SOPs to be issued on this behalf by the Education Department.
Varma also said that any person contravening the order shall be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Recently the State’s expert committee on covid-19 recommended that indoor commercial business activities start with 100% capacity for those who are double vaccinated.
Setback for convention centre as state cancels letter of award
The State government has cancelled the letter of award granted to the DCS Solar-Vascon consortium for the development of an over `800 crore mega convention centre at Dona Paula, after the consortium failed to furnish the performance guarantee of `16.2 crore. A senior government officer said that the company had provided a bid security of `50 lakh; which the department of public-private-partnership (PPP) encashed; after they failed to pay the performance guarantees. It is learnt that the company was supposed to pay the performance guarantee within 30 days of receiving the letter of award. However even 45 days later the performance guarantee has not been furnished, the officer said. “We gave them multiple extensions as they cited covid as a reason, but even after that they have failed to provide the performance guarantee, which resulted in the termination of the letter of award,” the officer said.
Though the government had received an overwhelming response at the pre-bid meeting with 15 firms evincing interest in the project, only two companies had shown interest to take up the project. In the first phase along with the convention centre, a multiplex and a five-star hotel were proposed at Dona Paula in an area of around 97,000 sqm. Earlier, the project was proposed on a 2.9 lakh sqm property, which was earmarked for setting up the Rajiv Gandhi IT Habitat.
Chief Secretary Puneet Kumar Goel to head reconstituted Smart City Board
The State Government has reconstituted the term of the Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd (IPSCDL), appointing Chief Secretary Puneet Kumar Goel as the chairman of the board.
Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate and his son Rohit, who is the mayor of the city, are ex-officio members on the board.
Gurudas Pilarnekar, Secretary for Urban Development said that the Department of Urban Development will issue notifications reconstituting the Board in respect of ex-officio members of the Board as and when there is a change of the incumbents holding the posts and for the other members as per the government orders from time to time. With polling complete, IPSCDL has begun to give fresh impetus to long delayed projects. The special purpose vehicle has approached the ECI and has obtained permission to float fresh tenders for projects that were cleared several years ago but which were never pursued. IPSCDL has floated eight tenders with most of the contract running in crores.
Container movement hindered at Mormugao port
Container movement for export and import continues to be hampered at Mormugao port, despite the assurances given by the port authorities and the Union shipping ministry.
A GCCI delegation visited Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Tourism and Ports, intending to determine the solution for the same. Since geared vessels with cranes are not available to berth at Goa, a reliable harbour mobile crane is required. Thus, Naik assured the delegation that he would meet Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, in Delhi and converse over the prospects of sanctioning funds under the Sagarmala Mission in order to purchase a mobile harbour crane.
Port authorities have admitted that the Mormugao port lacks the efficient infrastructure required to meet the needs of modern container vessels. Rajiv Jalota, the interim chairman of port, has assured the stakeholders that the Port would purchase an efficient harbour crane through the funds received from the Sagarmala Mission.
Goa Coastal Zone Management Plan delayed again
December 31, 2021, was the final date given to the state of Goa to complete its coastal zone management plan (CZMP) by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The State’s plea seeking relaxations for Goa have been further rejected by the National Coastal Zone Management Authority (NCZMA). The NCZMA has also suggested some alternative changes to be incorporated in the original coastal plan which will require the state to take some more time in order to include these changes.
The Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) had asked that the port limits should not be depicted on the coastal plan. However, the NCZMA has asked Goa to show all the major and minor ports in two opposing colours. The state had also asked that only archaeological and other important structures and sites be marked on the CZMP. Now these structures will also include lighthouses, ramps, and fishing jetties.
The secretary for the Union Ministry has asked the GCZMA to document and submit the data of the structures that are to be shown and those which are to be deleted from the CZMP by 15 March, 2022, to the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM).
State Govt notifies Mining Dump Policy
Goa government has notified the Mining Dump Policy consequently permitting the handling of low-grade iron ore generated between 23 November, 2007, and 11 September, 2012. In accordance to the policy, mineral rejects, sub-grade ore, or by products will be disposed off as determined by the state government.
The Mining Dump Policy was approved in December 2021 by the Goa government in a bid to restart mining activities in the state. The policy will allow handling of mining dumps outside and inside leases through auctioning by the Goa government and allows lessees to handle the dumps.
According to the policy, the mineral rejects, sub-grade ore, or by products generated before 11 September, 2012, stacked within the lease area and below the threshold value of ore at the point in time has become marketable in the present. The policy states that the Directorate of Mines and Geology may permit the lessee to transport this ore upon verification of relevant documents. The ore can be handled on the condition that the applicant obtains the necessary legal clearance and permission from the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and the Directorate General of Mines Safety, and makes the payment as specified in the schedule of charges.
PROGRAM ORGANISED TO BOOST EXPORTS OF ENGINEERING PRODUCTS FROM GOA
Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) along with Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC), Goa State Industries Association (GSIA), and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) organised a capacity building programme that focused on boosting product exports and bringing a majority of State export industries together for enhancing the exports from Goa.
The key objective of the program was to provide various opportunities for growth through exports to existing as well as prospective exporters. Alternative markets and products available for Goan engineering industries were also brought to the fore.
The meeting helped and discussed the issues facing the exporters, manufacturers, industries, CEOs of export firms, new exporters, and entrepreneurs looking for proper guidance in order to explore the potential of export markets.
The program explored and discussed a wide variety of topics covering all the queries of state exporters on the ways in which the Directorate of Industries, Trade and Commerce (DITC) can help exporters, industries, export opportunities and schemes for MSMEs, risks in exports, finance for exporters, export process and export promotion schemes by Government of India, and new export markets.