Panaji, March 25 | Curfew passes, which empower the holder to step out of home during the lockdown, have emerged as the new status symbol in Goa in the time of COVID-19.
Apart from monitoring their respective departments, largely via phone or email, Ministers in Goa are busying fending off queries from home-trapped elite and movers-and-shakers, about how to obtain curfew passes which could help them circumvent the ongoing curfew and step out onto Goa’s open and empty streets.
“The curfew pass has become a VIP fashion. People would normally request us for special passes to the ISL (Indian Super League) or VIP passes to important musical or political events. But, ever since the curfew pass system was announced by the Chief Minister, everyone seems obsessed with getting that pass,” a cabinet minister told IANS on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had announced that in view of the curfew until April 15, curfew passes would be issued only to those involved in providing essential services like nominated employees of the state Public Works Department, Electricity department, sanitation workers, etc., to ensure that repair and maintenance work related to these services was not hampered.
The passes were also to be handed out to key government officials as well as select media persons.
Apart from fending off eager queries about the passes, Ministers like Nilesh Cabral, who handles the Power Ministry portfolio, are adapting to the use of phones and email to tackle department exigencies and passing on instructions to the staff due to the restricted movement plea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Power is an essential service, so I am speaking to my officials on the phone. Any breakage or urgent issue is attended to by the department without the minister’s on-paper approval. Instructions are given verbally. The approvals will be post facto,” Cabral said.
The Minister said that in view of the curfew, power consumption in the state had fallen by 50 per cent, but added that he was “available on phone and via email for any issue, either related to his crucial department or to his constituency.”
As Cabinet Minister for Civil Supplies, a key department in the ongoing COVID-19 related public emergency, Govind Gaude also has his hands full.
“I am in communication and my department is functioning even on Saturdays and Sundays. It is a crucial time and I am heading a ministry which has to ensure that minimum requirement of essential goods like food grains, sugar, oil reaches the people,” Gaude said.
For now, Gaude is on the phone, handling queries from the department as well as from aspiring volunteers, following a call by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who has sought help from volunteers among the general public in order to deliver essential commodities to those who are in need.
Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said that the ministers had been briefed by Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who has urged them to isolate themselves from crowds and groups of people as much as possible.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant also said that his offices were “operational 24×7” and he along with his staff were handling the office landlines to tackle any bottlenecks.