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Goa CM asks centre for Rs 8,700 crores to roll out big projects, including Rs 300 crores for the decennial exposition of St Francis Xavier’s relics

Expounding on the necessity for funding, he stated that over 60 lakh pilgrims from all across India and abroad attended the previous exposition in 2014 and this year's attendance is anticipated to be higher.

On 22nd June, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was urged by Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to allocate a budget of Rs 8,700 crore for four major projects in Goa, including displaying the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, enhancing inter-city connectivity, building small dams and establishing a smart water utility. He asked the centre for grants totalling Rs 300 crore for the decennial exhibition of Saint Francis Xavier’s relics later this year and Rs 700 crore for water augmentation projects at a pre-Union budget meeting presided over by Nirmala Sitharaman.

Expounding on the necessity for funding, he stated that over 60 lakh pilgrims from all across India and abroad attended the previous exposition in 2014 and this year’s attendance is anticipated to be higher. He declared, “The state government has to make all the preparations for infrastructure creation for the smooth conduct of this global event.” Saint Francis Xavier’s relics are kept in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa which is close to Panaji, the state capital. The dates of the exposition are set between 21st November 2024 and 5th January 2025. Millions of people from all over the world attend the event, which takes place once every ten years. According to a statement from the chief minister’s office, Pramod Sawant emphasized the necessity of an economic package of Rs 300 crore for the occasion.

Meanwhile, the chief minister who holds charge of the state finance department also asked for assistance with the Konkan Railway (KR) route double-tracking. He asserted that it is the main rail link for ports along the western coast, running from Mangaluru to Mumbai, but double-tracking had been completed on a small section of the line while the remaining is still pending because of financial constraints.

He mentioned, “With this double-tracking, Goa will also be able to use this rail network for inter-city connectivity. Currently, land is a scarce entity in Goa, and in the future, the widening of roads will be difficult. Hence, I request you to provide Rs 5,000 crore to Konkan Railway for this inter-city connectivity project in Goa.” The chief minister further stated that Goa was to receive Rs 200 crore for tourism development and Rs 500 crore for the development of renewable energy to mitigate climate change, as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission.

He stressed, “We need much-improved rail connectivity from Goa to major cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune. Vande Bharat or express trains to these destinations will help the passengers, especially Goans,” and requested that the state receive these grants as soon as possible. Furthermore, he pointed out that Goa performs exceptionally well under the “scheme for special assistance to states for capital investment” and the initiative should be awarded an additional Rs 1,000 crore because it is considerably assisting Goa in accomplishing its infrastructure developments.

He highlighted that the state’s swift growth efforts have led to a quantum leap in water demand. The state government intends to develop and harvest water resources by establishing new water retention structures and enhancing current storage facilities to guarantee an adequate supply of water. Therefore, he sought Rs 700 crore to be provided to Goa for the construction of small dams, the augmentation of the water-holding capacity of already-existing dams, the strengthening and upgrading of irrigation projects and the implementation of anti-sea erosion and flood control measures.

According to Pramod Sawant, the state is working toward achieving “smart water utility” and replacing outdated pipelines gradually is one of the key components of this effort. He added, “For the implementation of this project, we seek special assistance of Rs 1,000 crore.” He noted that the state government has Rs 431 crore in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-maintained guarantee redemption fund. He maintained that the state has significantly lowered the outstanding loan amount of Rs 297 crore against the given guarantees by prepayment over the years.

He clarified that this corpus should be 5% of the extended guarantees by RBI norms, and withdrawals are only permitted if guarantees are invoked. He conveyed, “As the contribution in the fund is more than the loan amount, a policy decision needs to be taken to allow withdrawal of this excess amount or to transfer this excess amount to the consolidated sinking fund maintained by RBI.”

His office informed, “The chief minister said these initiatives are essential for Goa’s development, and he expressed certainty that they will be included in the upcoming Union Budget 2024-2025.” Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was in Delhi to take part in the pre-budget meeting led by the Union finance minister and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting.

Who was ‘Saint’ Francis Xavier?

Saint Francis Xavier who thought of the dark-skinned natives as “devils”, entered India on 6th May 1542 with a single aim to spread Christianity. Xavier established the idea of the Inquisition, an organization inside the Catholic Church designed to identify and punish anti-Christian behaviour defined by orthodox Christianity, to spread Christianity throughout India and strengthen its foundations. The inquisitions were nothing more than concentration camps from the 16th century, as European colonial rulers forced the politics and teachings of the Catholic Church upon indigenous populations.

Among his projects in India was providing patronage for the construction of churches throughout Malabar, which were completed at the volunteer hands of local neo-converts. The new churches were constructed with money pilfered from the Hindu temples. The Brahmins were his soft targets since they frequently served as centrifuges in his conversion efforts. The so-called lower populace was prevented from adopting the foreign faith by the influence of Brahmins, who topped the caste hierarchy.

He expressed, “(Indians) being black themselves, consider their colour the best, they believe that their gods are black, the great majority of their idols are as black as black can be and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at.” Eminent Indian historian Anant Kakba Priolka referred to the period of inquisition led by Francis Xavier as the age of “callousness and cruelty, tyranny and injustice, espionage and blackmail, avarice and corruption, repression of thought and culture and promotion of obscurantism.”

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