Congress, BJP spar over Goa beach cleaning contracts

A controversy over alleged corruption in the renewal of beach-cleaning contracts awarded by the Goa government’s tourism ministry has raised a stink in the coastal state. DH file photo

A controversy over alleged corruption in the renewal of beach-cleaning contracts awarded by the Goa government’s tourism ministry has raised a stink in the coastal state.

Deputy Chief Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Tuesday accused state Congress president Girish Chodankar of making baseless allegations. This came a day after the Congress party demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged irregularities in the renewal of beach-cleaning contracts in favour of a private agency, Drishti Marine, for cleaning and upkeep of Goa’s beaches.

“There is nothing illegal about continuing an agency’s services as the works carried out are to the satisfaction of the Department of Tourism and state government,” Ajgaonkar, who holds the Tourism Ministry portfolio, told reporters on Tuesday.

“Extensions to the agency for beach-cleaning were given based on the Goa Financial Rules (Rule) 184 and after taking all financial approvals. If anyone feels there are corruption and illegalities they are free to approach the courts of law and prove it,” Ajgaonkar said.

On Monday, Chodankar had claimed, that nine repeated extensions were given to the private agency for cleaning of Goa’s popular beaches, without following any tendering process, under Rule 184 of the Goa Financial Rules, which allows the government to allot public works only in emergency situations, were illegal. 

Drishti Marine has said that the Goa government owed them dues for nearly eight months and that the beach cleaning contract had expired on July 15 this year. 

"From July till date, we have extended our work purely on the verbal commitment and assurance of the minister, that the work order will be released for the interim period of work by revised work order at the earliest. We would be glad to stop work from tomorrow if the government says so. Government has to pay us our pending dues which is in arrears of 8 months," the company said in a statement issued here.

Goa’s beaches attract nearly eight million tourists every year. However, in recent years, accumulating garbage along the state’s beaches as well as near tourist attractions has been listed as one of the reasons for a drop in tourist arrivals, according to travel and tourism industry stakeholders in the state.

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