Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Venkatachalam MahalingamGPC Leader, Pandit Rudra SharmaGHDC Vice President Pandit Jagmohan PersaudIndian High Commissioner to Guyana Venkatachalam Mahalingam is being lobbied to provide assistance in resolving the holiday timing controversy, which has caused a division in the local Hindu community, most notably during the celebrations of hallmark events like Diwali and Phagwah.Massive confusion erupted last year after two Hindu organisations in the country failed to find middle ground on the date for the Festival of Lights – Diwali. This disagreement rolled over into the new year for the Festival of Colours – Phagwah, with the celebration being observed on two days. This again will be the case for Diwali celebrations 2016.The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (GHDS) has declared that October 30 is the true date for the celebration of the holiday, while the Guyana Pandits Council (GPC) is holding out that it is October 29.Restore harmonyIn an effort to settle the controversy in order to restore harmony among Guyanese Hindus, the organisations have taken a decision to seek the intervention of an expert from India.The yet-to-be selected expert, who must be a member of the board responsible for setting national holidays in India and an astrologer, will be responsible for conducting his own study and making his own assessment of when the holidays ought to be held, and both organisations are hopeful that his pronouncement will be timely so as to avoid controversy next year.GHDS Vice President, Pandit Jagmohan Persaud, during an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, explained that the Indian High Commissioner responded via telephone after several requests were made.The organisations were still awaiting an official written response from the High Commission, pledging its assistance in this regard.Pandit Persaud expressed high hopes that by next year, the issue would be resolved.GPC Leader, Pandit Rudra Sharma, during a telephone interview with this newspaper also shared similar views.“It is extremely important to us to have this issue resolved, because it is dividing the Hindu community. It is not looking good and we would like to have this resolved as early as possible,” he stated.
Parking meter project…Jagdeo calls for scrapping of initiativeA head of his address to the Councillors of the Georgetown Municipality next week, President David GrangerPresident David Grangerhas called for greater transparency to prevail in relation to the highly-controversial parking meter project which, according to City Councillors, is shrouded in secrecy.The President also expressed concerns of the proposed rates for parking being too burdensome on citizens.State Minister Joseph Harmon disclosed on Wednesday that in light of mounting concerns over the initiative, Cabinet ordered that the contract between the Town Council and National Parking Systems/Smart City Solutions (NPS/SCS) Inc be reviewed by the Finance Ministry and Attorney General’s Chambers.Harmon had cautioned that Central Government is limited in its intervention since it is undemocratic and outright unlawful to interfere in matters under the remit of the City Council.Prompted for his take on the situation, the President during the taping of his weekly telecast, the “PublicParking meterInterest” on Thursday, said he is deeply concerned about the issues being raised in relation to the project.“Obviously we want to protect the national interests…I am disappointed that there are members of the public who feel they were not consulted…The whole purpose of having democratic elections is to have democratically run councils,” Granger stated.He noted that his Government cannot do much but insisted that transparency and accountability prevail.“As far as the Government is concerned, we would insist that there is greater transparency…we cannot overrule the council which is a legal body but we can ask for transparent procedures to prevail,” he stated.In his address to City Council next week, the President plans to also urge the Council to continue in its efforts to foster urban renewal.These include the sanitation projects, cleaning of canals, solid waste management, the clearing of D’Urban Park, among others.Granger said he will also urge the Council to focus on developing housing programmes in a joint effort with the Housing Department.“I would also urge them to look at minimising slums and squatter settlements, together with Central Government to embark on a programme of housing which would help indigent families move out of theOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeoblighted areas of the town and go into decent housing,” he stated.Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has joined many in calling for the parking meter programme to be scrapped immediately.During a news conference on Thursday, Jagdeo explained that apart from the controversial nature of the project, the proposed fees are extremely exorbitant and will only add to the financial burdens of the people of the country.Since the signing of the contract for the Parking Meters Project, many persons, including councillors, over the past weeks have raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the deal, which they claim appears to be a shady one indeed aimed at exploiting the local populace.Reports indicate that some 300 parking meters will be installed across the city, charging $125 every 15 minutes for an expected yearly income of approximately $100 million to $200 million.Moreover, minibus and taxi operators will be expected to pay $100 every time they park in their respective parks.Those employees who park outside their offices for eight hours per day will end up paying roughly $80,000 every month.burdens of the people of the country.Since the signing of the contract for the Parking Meters Project, many persons, including councillors, over the past weeks have raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the deal, which they claim appears to be a shady one indeed aimed at exploiting the local populace.Reports indicate that some 300 parking meters will be installed across the city, charging $125 every 15 minutes for an expected yearly income of approximately $100 million to $200 million.Moreover, minibus and taxi operators will be expected to pay $100 every time they park in their respective parks.Those employees who park outside their offices for eight hours per day will end up paying roughly $80,000 every month.