Sardinha exploits BJP tie-up for central aid

| 10 December 1999 17:53 IST

To pull the tourist state out from the debt trap, chief minister Francisco Sardinha is now relying more upon the central leaders of his coalition partners – the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Pulling down the erstwhile Congress government by splitting from the party, Sardinha has recently formed a coalition government here along with the BJP, the principle opposition party in the state till yesterday.

"At least now the centre should help us generously because it is also the BJP government here", said Sardinha after he returned from his Delhi visit. He met several union ministers there including prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Unlike his predecessors, Sardinha has requested the prime minister to release one-time grant of Rs 100 crore for the tourist state which is going through acute financial crisis. "We don't want loans but grant", he made it clear.

Having its dues reaching the figure of Rs 1300 crore, Goa has been recently borrowing only to pay the interest over the loans besides the part principal amount. In fact 80 per cent of these loans are from the central government alone.

With even the contingency fund getting dried up, the tiny state with hardly 1.5 million population has no funds even for day-to-day developmental works. This has obviously brought immense pressure on infrastructure, which the tourism industry needs here to withstand the global competition in the hospitality sector.

Sardinha claims that the PM has positively responded to his argument that Goa needs to be compensated with grants since it contributes almost Rs 2000 crore annually in the form of foreign exchange, collected from mining and tourism.

"More and more people from all over the world are expected to visit Goa during the millennium year. Is it not a matter of shame for the whole country when they see total collapse of infrastructural facilities in India", asks Sardinha.

After taking over, he has demarcated infrastructure including roads, water, sanitation, power, communication and clean beaches as the priority area. Keeping this in mind, he also met ministers for telecommunications, power and tourism to pose the same difficulties before them.

"I do not want tourists to suffer and carry bad name of Goa back to their countries", says the chief minister. He is getting prepared to face the millennium year as the state has started getting crowded. The real rush however would begin from 23 December.

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