Congratulating Goa for vaccinating 100 per cent of its eligible population with the first dose of the Covid vaccine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday that the state will now play a crucial role in reviving tourism. He was speaking at a virtual interaction with Goa’s healthcare workers, doctors, citizens and government functionaries.
“Goa will play a vital role in reviving the tourism sector. Think about it – hotel industry, taxi drivers, hawkers, shopkeepers – when they are all vaccinated, even tourists will come with a feeling of safety. Now, Goa is among the few international tourist destinations where people have received the protection of the vaccine. We all wish that in the coming tourism season, there should be the same tourism activity as before, that tourists from the country and abroad enjoy themselves here,” he said.
“This will be possible only when we pay the same attention to corona safety measures as we did for vaccination. The infections have reduced but, even now, we cannot take this virus lightly. The more focus there is on safety and hygiene, the more number of tourists will arrive here,” Modi said in the virtual interaction attended by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Union Ministers of State Shripad Naik and Bharati Pawar and ministers from the state cabinet, among others. The PM said the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand will also be possible now.
Modi said over 425 vaccines were administered every second, over 26,000 every minute and over 15 lakh every hour on Friday, as a result of which India has successfully vaccinated over 2.5 crore people in a day. He pointed out that besides Himachal Pradesh and Goa, Union Territories like Chandigarh and Lakshadweep have also vaccinated all of their eligible population with the first dose while Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar, Ladakh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Dadra and Nagar Haveli would follow soon.
“This was not discussed much but India, in its vaccination programme, has given precedence to states related to the tourism sector. Bharat mein, hum ne yeh kaha nahi kyunki is pe bhi raajneeti hone lag jaati hai, lekin yeh bahut zaroori tha ke hamari tourism destination jald se jald khule (We did not say it because this too would have become political. But it was very important that our tourism destinations open at the earliest),” he said.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said earlier this week that the state had vaccinated 102 per cent of its eligible population with the first dose and that Opposition parties which were questioning the claim were working against the interest of Goa. Sawant said the state government had vaccinated much more than the state’s adult population based on electoral data and projections of the Registrar General of India.
“Altogether there are 11.66 lakh persons eligible for vaccination in Goa. Till date, we have vaccinated 11.88 lakh. We have, in fact, vaccinated 102 per cent,” Sawant had said, adding that in addition to its population, the state had also vaccinated tourists and foreign nationals.
Modi also interacted with Dr Nitin Dhupdale from the Goa Medical College and Hospital and asked him how doctors addressed the reservations people had about vaccination and what its possible side-effects were. The Prime Minister then said, “Over 2.5 crore people received the vaccine yesterday and after 12 am at night, a political party had reactions, their fever was rising. Iska koi logic ho sakta hai kya?” Dhupdale laughed at the remark and went on to list post-vaccination reactions including fever, body ache, headache or weakness that some people may experience.
The PM also interacted with a nurse and recipients of the vaccine including Sumera Khan, a blind student from South Goa, and said that he was touched by people’s participation in the vaccination programme across the country on the occasion of his birthday on Thursday.
“Many birthdays will come. Many have gone past. But I have always distanced myself from these things… But, yesterday was a very emotional day. Because of your efforts, yesterday was very special. The medical fraternity has been working day and night for the last two years. Without worrying about their own lives they have been going on… Yesterday touched my heart. It was unforgettable. I want to thank everyone,” he said.
Six different government offices attended the interaction, including the state Secretariat and the Chief Minister’s conference room in Altinho. It was also watched live from the GMC and five other venues and all Primacy Health Centres and Community Health Centres in the state.
Addressing the people of Goa where Legislative Assembly polls are due in February-March next year, Modi also lauded Sawant for carrying on the legacy of the late Manohar Parrikar, former union defence minister and Goa’s former chief minister.
“Atmanirbhar Bharat is our resolve…. Goa is creating job opportunities for the youth and working seriously. Goa is not only leading in vaccination but in many aspects of development. Goa’s rural and urban areas are becoming free of open defecation. There has been very good work with regard to power and water too. Goa is a state that has achieved 100 per cent electrification. In har ghar nal se jal, Goa ne toh kamaal hi kar diya hai… The way Goa has taken this (Jal Jeevan Mission) forward with good governance and ease of living, it shows the government’s priorities. Goa government has shown its commitment to good governance amid the pandemic… Whatever help the Centre sent, it reached every beneficiary speedily without any discrimination. No stone was left unturned in taking it to the poor, farmers, fishermen.”
He also listed the Centre’s schemes for the poor to provide ration, LPG cylinders and Kisan Samman credit cards. “Goa is a state of unlimited possibilities,” Modi said, adding that it is also an ambassador of ‘Brand India’.
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