Russians, Israelis have 'occupied' Goa's coastal villages: Congress

Russians and Israelis have 'occupied' certain coastal villages in Goa and the trend needs to be resisted, Congress Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik said Tuesday.

"Russians and Israelis have occupied certain villages in a manner which cannot be called ideal tourism, and they indulge in business activities in violation of the laws of the land, including Foreign Exchange Management Act," said Naik in a written statement which was issued quoting the parliamentarian's speech at a National Students Union of India (NSUI) convention here Tuesday.

"Goa's precious lands needs to be protected and we cannot allow any Goan village to be called 'Israel Village' or 'Russian Village'," Naik said.

Naik's reference was to the beach villages of Morjim, Ashwem and Arambol in North Goa, which are popular with Israeli and Russian tourists, who flock to these beaches in thousands annually, making the area a throbbing hub for foreigners.

While foreigners entering into hospitality and catering businesses in partnership with local residents is not a rare phenomenon, the Morjim-Ashwem and Arambol beach stretches were also in the cross-hairs of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) a few years back, which had red-flagged a couple of real estate deals along the coastline, allegedly funded by frontmen for the Russian mafia.

While over 40,000 Russian tourists hit Goa's beaches in the tourist season from October to March, the beach tourism destination also saw some 4,000 Israelis hitting the surf here annually.

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