The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) has declined to furnish the information sought under RTI on the current probe into the alleged multi crore scam in the tender of comprehensive management of cleanliness of Goa beaches.
ACB’s Deputy Superintendent of Police and Public Information Officer while declining to furnish the information under Section 8(1) (h) of the RTI Act has informed that the inquiry is on against prominent government officers and politicians and that the disclosure of the information may impede the further process of investigation. Sought from the ACB under RTI was a copy of the file notings and correspondence processing the complaint on the beach cleaning scam.
In a complaint to the ACB on 18th May last year it was sought that a F.I.R be registered against Goa’s Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, Managing Director of Goa Tourism Development Corporation Nikhil Dessai, Manish Mohata owner of Ram Engineering and Construction Company and Bhumika Clean Tech Pvt Ltd, and Avdhoot Parrikar brother of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar amongst others in connection with the alleged multi-crore scam in the tender of Comprehensive Management of Cleanliness of Goa beaches.
It was demanded that the F.I.R. be registered for cheating the State under Sec 420, 120 (b) of Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy and connivance with the contractors and also under Sec.7, 8, 9 & 13 (1) (d) read with Section13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 for abusing official position for pecuniary gains besides abetting corruption.
In the complaint given to the ACB were copies of documents obtained under the Right to Information Act which revealed that the Goa Government in September 2014 awarded the contract of Comprehensive Management of cleanliness of North Goa Beaches to Bhumika Cleantech Services Pvt Ltd at a annual cost of Rs 7,51,40,999 and the cleaning of South Goa beaches to Ram Cleansers & Developers Pvt Ltd at a cost of Rs 7,04,87,999 with both the companies being owned by Manish Mohata.
It was pointed out that under the so called scientific beach cleaning contract was awarded to these little known companies at a very exorbitant rate of Rs.14.56 crores annually while for the earlier years the cleaning of Goa beaches was costing the State Government an average of a mere two crores annually.
In the name of scientific cleaning, these contractors have totally neglected the beaches, with heaps of garbage seen everywhere and the contractors burning non-biodegradable waste on the beaches while other waste strewn in the vegetation and sand dumped on it to hide the buried waste.
Given to the ACB were 150 photographs of beaches across Goa showing that the contractors were high-handedly destroying the flora and fauna on the beaches and the fragile eco-system by digging pits and burning of garbage on Government property while flouting the Central and State Pollution control board guidelines.
These so called beach cleaning companies roped in by Tourism Department have failed even to fulfill the minimum terms and conditions laid down in the tender documents and while submitting bills have given fake names of staff besides seeking payments for works not executed.
Also given to the ACB were photographs of the 4000 sq mt land at Saligao given to the contractor for segregation and disposal of waste but which has been recklessly turned into another Sonsoddo garbage dump.
The Tourism department has been in a fast forward mode to release the payments to the contractors and in connivance with some corrupt officials even the length and the breath of beaches has been manipulated. For example Vagator, Vozrant and Anjuna stretch which though only 3kms had been shown as 7kms.
It was demanded that a meticulous probe be conducted into the role of Avdhoot Parrikar in this fraud as the beach cleaning contract was awarded while his brother Manohar Parrikar was the Chief Minister. Though the name of Avdhoot Parrikar does not figure anywhere in the official papers, he has been the man behind the scene attending meetings between the beach cleaning contractors and government officials details of which have been given to the ACB.
This multi crore scam must be thoroughly investigated and recovery proceedings be initiated against the tainted officials involved while the services of the contractors must be immediately terminated and their security deposit forfeited. This Government had vowed by Zero Tolerance to Corruption but sadly the ground reality is very dismaying besides anguishing.