Parulekar grilled, called incompetent, scam of Rs 75 Cr alleged

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 12 January 2016 20:39 IST

The opposition is suddenly seen aggressive in the Assembly. The first target on the first day was tourism minister Dilip Parulekar.

Opposition leader Pratapsing Rane called him an incompetent minister while Digambar Kamat, another former chief minister, made him sweat.

He also got a verbal bashing from Pro Tem Speaker Mauvin Godinho, who was chairing the Question Hour, with a warning to his officials but indirectly suggesting him to do proper homework and come to the Assembly.

Mickky Pacheco, whose Goa Vikas Party otherwise supports the government, also did not spare him when the minister could not tell the number of tourists arriving at the airport.

While independent MLA Rohan Khaunte was the most aggressive among all, ruling BJP’s Calangute MLA Michael Lobo also did not leave the opportunity to grill his Saligao-based rival neighbour.

In fact Parulekar made a statement: “I am supposed to reply to the questions raised by the opposition.”

When everybody in the House started laughing since he was grilled by his own party man, Parulekar immediately made a correction: “whoever opposes my views is an opposition for me.”

He was grilled on three issues today: the official foreign junkets to promote tourism raised by Kamat, tourist arrivals at the airport raised by Mickky and alleged beach cleaning scam raised by Khaunte.

FOREIGN JUNKETS

While asking pointed questions repeatedly on Parulekar’s attempt to evade a direct reply, Kamat finally compelled him to table the documents on the table of the House, relating to official reports of the foreign junkets as well as pre-audits announced by former CM Manohar Parrikar in August last year.

The most pointed question by Kamat, which made Parulekar speechless, was how many tourists came from the foreign countries where promotional drives were held.

He had no details on either of these demands while Kamat said Goa government had spent Rs 19 crore on foreign junkets.

Making offence as his defence, Parulekar said his government has spent same amount of money spent by the Congress government during Kamat’s regime while dollar had jumped from 42 to 62.

“It means we spent less than what you had spent,” Parulekar countered the former CM.

MICKKY TRAPS PARULEKAR

Mickky, himself a former tourism minister, in fact trapped Parulekar on his written reply, which gave the same number of air passengers as the number of tourists arrived by air.  

“Who provided you these figures and what mechanism do you have to arrive at these figures?”

The fact, which Parulekar had to admit, that the figures were provided by Airport Authority of India and they have no mechanism to identify tourists from among the air passengers.

“It is presumed that 90% of air passengers are tourists”, said Parulekar, but could not provide any basis to justify it.

 

Michael Lobo suddenly jumped to join hands with Mickky, asking what is the outcome of the co-ordination with the AAI while complaining about no facilities at the arrival lounge for the passengers.

Parulekar could only tell that they co-ordinate with the AAI and defence ministry, but could not spell out the outcome and decisions implemented.

When opposition leader Rane sought for the number of visas issued on arrival, Parulekar bluntly told him: “ask a separate question.”

“Why a separate question? This is related to the question. This minister is incompetent,” Rane sat down in anguish.

BEACH CLEANING SCAM

And till the Question Hour got over, Parulekar somehow managed to fight Khaunte’s questions on the alleged beach cleaning scam.

Referring to the file of beach cleaning contracts he had submitted to the House in the last session with all the official documents he had collected, the Porvorim MLA asked a simple question: “what are the minister’s findings about the issue and what is the action he has initiated?”

Instead of replying to the question, he kept on quoting the figures mentioned in his written reply in spite of Khaunte telling him in typical Konkani: “ho Ramayan vichallyar Mahabharat sangta mare” (हो रामायण विचाल्ल्यार महाभारत सांगता मरे)

The verbal debate became so heated, that Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar had to intervene, stating that Khaunte is only levelling charges. “Magir to uttar kitem bodkyachem ditlo?” (मागीर तो उत्तर कितें बोडक्याचें दितलो?)

And the charges made by Khaunte were serious.

There are two different contractors, whose directors are the same and even the office is the same. They have claimed money without doing any job properly – cleaning, segregation, composting and even garbage lifting.

Parulekar had to admit lapses on the part of the contractors for which, he said, Rs 1.70 crore were deducted from their fees, paying them only Rs 4.15 crore.

Khaunte said if the contracts are not reviewed immediately, the government will have pay them almost Rs 75 crore from the public coffers, which is a scam.

When opposition members asked for a half an hour debate on the alleged scam, pro tem speaker Mauvin told them to give notice to the new speaker, once he is elected.

Parulekar probably expressed a sigh of relief as the Speaker finally uttered those words: Question Hour is over.  

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