launches Support Sitara Devi Online Petition






March 24, 2014; Mumbai: The Craftsmen, Artistes & Designers Promotion Forum or CADPF – a newly-formed NGO has decided to take up the cause of octogenarian and Padmashree Sitara Devi’s demand for a Dance Academy in Mumbai.

Kathak exponent and and a student of Sitara Devi’s daughter Jayantimala – Ranjana Bhattacharya of the CADPF said, “For decades since the late 1970s, 94-year-old Kathak Queen Padmashree Sitara Devi has been demanding a decent sized plot of land in or around Mumbai to start a residential dance academy to educate students both in Classical and modern styles of dance. She has met hundreds of politicians, collectors and even private individuals and corporate CEOs to support her dream but her demands have fallen on deaf years. The 94-year-old-plus Sitara Devi has been living in Mumbai for over 80 years now and while politicians and businessmen have been allocated plots over the years, this dancing legend has been sidelined and ignored.”

The CADPF has launched an online petition with a signature collection drive  located at and requested all lovers of all forms of dance and particularly Kathak to join this campaign to demand a professional and independent Dance Academy in Mumbai comparable to the best in the World.

To support this campaign and to SUPPORT SITARA DEVIs demand for an Independent Dance Academy in Mumbai go to and leave your comments. Please mention your full name, location and email id to ensure that your submission is valid. Your comment with your correct full name, location and email id will be counted as one vote.





Government cracks down on illegal buying of land in Goa – 12 properties confiscated

Foreigners  in the dock for illegally buying land in Goa

Signaling its zero-tolerance intent, the government has cracked down on immovable properties in Goa, such as land and houses, illegally acquired by foreign citizens and firms over the last four years.

“We have already confiscated 12 such foreign-owned properties after imposing the due penalty,” said a senior finance ministry official on the condition of anonymity. These properties-largely acquired by Russian, Israeli and British citizens-were acquired in abject violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1999 regulations.

“Show cause notices were issued to 29 entities-16 against foreign individuals and 13 against companies formed by foreign nationals-that had acquired properties in Goa,” the official added.

Sources told HT that the finance minister-led Economic Intelligence Council, which meets annually, will also take up the property acquisition issue by foreigners in Goa. “This will also sensitize state governments and administrative agencies, including the Reserve Bank of India, to the kind of violations that take place. Hence, appropriate action can be taken from the government’s side,” said an official.

Rules stipulate that foreign nationals should reside continuously in India for at least half a year to become eligible for buying property.

“They skirt the rule by roping in locals or Indian companies, who later hand over the property to foreign nationals or companies,” the official said.

Of late, there have been many complaints of illegal activities being undertaken by foreigners in Goa. Besides illegal acquisition of immovable property, there have also been allegations of a strong foreign mafia presence in the state – responsible for drug-running, smuggling and prostitution rackets. Unofficial reports say about 500 foreigners have also bought agricultural land in the state.

The National Security Council has also been apprised of the developments, which allegedly have the potential to snowball into a serious issue later.

Two years ago, acting on public complaints and outcry over illegal activities by foreigners in Goa, the state government had issued an advisory aimed at foreigners and their local accomplices – cautioning against indulging in property transactions in violation of FEMA.

As an immediate measure, the government also decided to upgrade the Goa sub-zonal office of the Enforcement Directorate, which deals with such cases, to a zonal status. Once this is done, it would be headed by a joint director of enforcement.


A carnival sans fish in Goa?

 Fish gets scarce in Goa over the weekend…

By Martin De Souza – Goa Newz Network


Thanks to the long, extended weekend, Goa had hordes of tourists pouring in from neighbouring states like Maharahstra and Karnataka. However, many of the tourists who wanted to taste some of the sea food which Goa is internationally famous for, were disappointed and some of them even returned home angry. Lobsters, king crabs, tiger prawns, king fish  pomfrets and other expensive fish were not available in most of the small local beach side restaurants and shacks on Sunday.

If the Goa State government does not act quickly and resolve the issue, the strike will impact the restaurant business in Goa during the Carnival, says Salvador De Costa convener of the SpeakGoa movement who is contemplating submitting a memo on behalf of the restaurant owners in North Goa to chief minister Manohar Parrikar and the Tourism Minister. “Goa is expecting at least 10 lakh visitors during the Carnival this year and with an acute shortage of sea food, prices of other food items are also likely to rise exponentially as wholesalers want to make maximum profit, opined De Costa.

Some of the restaurants which did have fish in stock were charging double the regular rates quoting the ongoing trawler strike and fish shortage in Goa.  Trawlers from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka have also joined the strike causing a huge shortfall of fish in the market for local consumption. Martins Corner at BetalbatimBeach in south Goa hiked their rates by about 15 to 25 per cent over the weekend for sea food items. Guests who went to Martins over the weekend were disappointed since their favourite seafood was not available, according to a regular at the famous restaurant. Café Ritz – the small eatery at Panaji known for its fish thali had only a few options to offer – on a normal day they have at least 25-30 varieties of sea food. This weekend the menu was down to 15-18 sea food options. Other smaller restaurants were serving “cold-storage fish” and even the quantity was much lesser.” Says Cajetan Britto of Brittos – the very popular sea food restaurant at BagaBeach, “We ran short of certain varieties of sea food including crabs and pomfrets over the weekend. However, since Brittos is primarily a sea food restaurant and we buy fish in huge quantities, we had options to offer our guests. But smaller restaurants were badly affected. The price of sea food also has gone up and even the bigger restaurants felt the pinch over the weekend. Many restaurants like Brittos have a fixed price menu which is applicable throughout the year. We cannot change the price and unlike other restaurants who charge on a daily basis we could not hike our rates.”

The trawler owners are angered by the diesel price hike coupled with the re-classification of fishing as an industrial activity – earlier fishing was classified as an agricultural activity and was eligible for various subsidies including a lower rate on diesel.

With the new classification in force trawler owners now have to shell out Rs 61.35 for a litre of diesel — an increase of a whopping Rs 11 per litre from the earlier subsidized price. Trawlers in Goa have announced an indefinite strike from January 29 if the price of diesel is not reduced. With the state government not taking notice of the trawler owners’ demands, fish may soon vanish from the menu of most Goans in the coming days. The shortfall in the supply of fish has had a collateral effect on vegetables and milk products which also saw a small increase in price. Many tourists from Maharashtra and north India were shocked at the price of fish and decided to go in for a vegetarian or chicken menu thus increasing the demand for vegetables and chicken over the weekend.

Says a Micheal Fernandes (name changed on request) a restaurant owner in the prime tourist area of Candolim in North Goa  “The price of seafood has gone up almost three times for some varieties of sea food. Even the normal fare has doubled. There is no fish is the market and those who venture out into the sea charge double for whatever they have got.” Fernandes owns one shack and two restaurants in North Goa and says he may have to take fish off his menu completely in a day or two.  Goa has approximately 1,200-1300 trawlers which net nearly 70-75 million tonnes of fish annually. Most trawlers at the major fishing jetties at Cutbona, Betim and Chapora were anchored and did not venture out into the sea, says Fernandes blaming the local government for inaction in the matter.

(Martin De Souza is a senior journalist based in Goa) 

Comrades in alms – Professional begging in Goa increases 200 per cent in two years, says Helping Hands Goa survey

By Jonathan Dsouza


A survey conducted by a social service network Helping Hands Goa in about 8 towns and cities in Goa including Mapusa, Panjim, Margao, Ponda and the beach areas of Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna etc has found that professional begging in Goa has increased over 200 per cent in the last two years.  The number of beggars who are not original inhabitants of Goa has increased almost 250 per cent since 2010, says the survey. The entire survey will be released as part of a book Ohh Goa !!! next month

Tempted by the generous alms offered by the foreign tourists who flock to the beaches of Goa, hundreds of beggars from other parts of India descend upon Goa just before the tourist season can start. These beggars live on the roads for about six months surviving on the alms and dole of the tourists and go back to their native towns during May-June when the monsoon season begins. Some of the beggars shift base either to Panjim or Mapusa with some of them traveling to Margao and further south.

Says Jonathan Dsouza spokesperson of Helping Hands Goa, “We have launched two projects to help rehabilitate beggars in Goa. To start with about  50 able and fit beggars will be trained in some local craft or skill which will enable them to make a living without begging. However, before we launched this project, we conducted a survey in about 8 cities and smaller towns or villages in Goa. The number of professional beggars has risen drastically. Some the beggars even own a house and some land in their native places and have ration cards, voter Id cards or other government documentation to prove their State of origin, but prefer to beg in Goa during the peak tourist season of November, December and January. The law is not a strong deterrent and as the beggars are merely booked for begging and not any other serious offences, they are let off almost immediately.

We also found some sort of a syndicate operating and supporting the beggar’s network. The police must investigate the possibility of such an organized syndicate operating in Goa. The use of children and minors has also increased manifold. About ten years ago all the beggars in Goa were elderly people. Today one sees more children in the age group of 8 to 14 begging on the roads. The children are in groups and though may be seen individually, the moment one child raises an alarm, about 5-6 other beggars appear almost out of no where to support their comrade in alms. We tried to rehabilitate a few children as part of our Helping Hands Save the Children Project, but their parents immediately came and took the kids away. The next day the kids were back on the roads begging,” explains Dsouza.

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