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CM steps in as Dhavalikar corners Azgaonkar over tourism projects



Alleging gross mismanagement and irregularities in the projects carried out by the department of tourism and the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar on Wednesday cornered the Minister for Tourism Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar, who was left speechless while replying to a technical query raised by the opposition benches, in turn forcing the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to intervene and come out with an assurance that all the projects of this department would be henceforth scrutinised.

The Chief Minister assured the House that immediate steps would be taken to ensure that prior approvals and permissions are taken from the competent authorities, before floating tenders and issuing work orders of the department of tourism. “Henceforth, no government project will be delayed due to no objection certificates (NOCs) from government departments,” he added. Citing example of Swadesh Darshan projects, which are left halfway due to the failure of the department of tourism in obtaining the NoCs from the coastal regulation zone authority, Dhavalikar pinpointed to a project of Rs 7.90 crore under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Centre, which is languishing due to the absence of a NOC from the CRZ authority.

Azgaonkar was unable to provide a satisfactory reply when asked why and how a project at Tilamol as regards shifting of high tension overhead lines to underground cables, which should have been taken up by the electricity department, came under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the tourism department. “This is a serious error as the particular project has cost Rs 3.51 crore, and the money should have been actually deposited with the department of electricity,” he noted.

When the Minister for Tourism informed that 41 works of the tourism department are in progress, the leader of the opposition Digambar Kamat maintained that all the projects of the department of tourism have proceeded beyond the stipulated date of completion and hence delayed on account of absence of NoCs.

Speaking further, Kamat said that under such circumstances, the involved contractors are bound to go for litigations/ arbitrations claiming escalation in the cost of the projects. “You are creating a third party liability by issuing a work order to the contractors, before obtaining requisite NoCs and permissions,” he mentioned.

The leader of the opposition also wanted to know if the estimates are prepared by the consultants such as M/s KPMG, without taking into consideration the basic requirements of obtaining various permissions, before commencement of the projects.

He also reminded the Minister for Tourism to start an inquiry into the dealings of M/s KPMG as was assured to the House, during its ongoing session.

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