Sunday, March 1, 2009

Making garbage and casinos work for us

“Ideas are what run this world,” said the man with the purple nose and red eyes in the corner of the taverna.
“Ideas can be good and ideas can be bad,” I said.
“True, I have had some bad ideas and I have had some good ideas,” he said.
“Have you got any right now?” I asked.
“Of course,” he burped, “why do you think I spend most of my time here?”
“Does the feni activate the idea-creating part of your brain,” I asked.
“Could be,” he said, “which is why I had this idea to take a patent on feni as a product of Goa. This is the elixir of life I tell you and you only get it in Goa.”
“But cashews grow in Karnataka, Maharashtra, even Kerala, so feni can be made anywhere; what’s so special about Goa feni?” I asked.
“It’s the process my friend,” he said. “There’s the good red earth of Goa on the feet of the men who crush the fruit and that adds to the flavour.”
“Never mind the feni; do you have any good ideas right now?”
“Garbage and casinos,” he said. “I have the best solution for both”
“Then you would be the greatest man in the state. They will erect your statues everywhere, give you national awards and a plot of land,” I said.
“Well it is workable, but it would need money and engineering,” he said.
“We have money and we have lots of engineers looking for jobs,” I said.
“It’s like this,” he said taking a deep draught. “Casinos and garbage are two things that no village, town or city wants in their backyard.”
“Or front yard,” I said.
“So I have a simple solution which would get rid of both and also get both to continue making money for the exchequer,” he said.
“That would be good,” I said.
“Goa has a small land mass, but we have the ocean at our feet,” he said.
“That cannot be a good idea,” I said. “Throwing garbage into the ocean makes no sense, the ocean throws it back at us. And anyway I doubt those casino ships can sail. They will break up and sink and everyone on them will drown and the ocean will throw all that back on the shore. Even NGOs will refuse to clean that up.”
“No, no,” he said, “Let me finish. We need to build an island in the ocean a few nautical miles away from the coast. Take all the debris that is being dumped on highways and mangroves and use that to build the island. They’ve done it Dubai, so it can be done here too.”
“But the water levels will rise and all our low lying areas will be drowned,” I said.
“No it won’t; because we will also use the sand and rocks from the ocean floor to build the island and then nothing will be drowned,” he said.
“Then what,” I asked.
“Then build a proper landfill site so that the leachate does not flow into the ocean and kill all the fish and swimmers,” he said.
“That is quite naïve of you, of course a proper landfill will not be built,” I said.
“A jail will also be built on the island, to house the engineers and consultants and politicians and bureaucrats who were guilty of allowing substandard construction’” he said.
“So how does all this deal with the casinos,” I asked.
“See, if you drink feni like I do, you would have asked another question, which would be: How will you get the running costs to manage the landfill site, since waste will have to be ferried up and down?” he said.
“So what’s the answer,” I said.
“The casinos will be anchored around the island and will pay their five or seven crore annually to the Government of Goa for maintaining the island. Also every panchayat and Municipality in Goa will pay a small waste management tax too. It’s a win-win situation,” he said.
“I don’t think it will work,” I said.
“Drink some feni,” he said, “and it will all become crystal clear.”

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