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Ajgaonkar says beach cleaning will remain with tourism dept

Panaji: Deputy Chief Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar, who holds the Tourism portfolio, said that beach cleaning is his right and he will not hand it over to any other department.

Replying on demands of tourism department in the state assembly on Monday, Ajgoankar categorically stated that other waste can be handled by the newly formed waste management department but the tourism department will not give up beach cleaning work.

“I will not leave beach cleaning work. It is my right. All other waste can be handled by the waste management department,” he said.

As regards the beach-cleaning contract, the minister said that the department has selected the lowest bidder, based in Karnataka, out of five bidders and after completing all processes, work order will be issued soon to the selected agency.

Responding to an issue raised by leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, who while referring to a report in ‘The Navhind Times’, questioned on Goa’s participation in a tourism event, the Tourism Minister said that when he saw the report in the daily regarding opening of bids just two days before the event to be held in Kolkata, he enquired with officials of the department.

“I asked the officials of the tourism department how it would happen in just two days and accordingly directed to cancel the participation in Kolkata event,” he clarified.

Ajgaonkar said that his department is not doing any work without the approval of the finance department and added that he has directed his officials to maintain transparency while taking up all kinds of works.

The minister said that the work of first phase of preparing the master plan and tourism policy is in the completion stage and he will carry out a detailed study and take all the stakeholders into confidence before finalising the master plan and tourism policy of the state.

“The government is giving topmost priority to the safety and security of tourists. The government is also trying to make Goa a No 1 tourist destination,” he said, adding that the government has constituted committee under Tourism Secretary to look after preparation of the master plan and tourism policy.

The Tourism Minister further said an issue of visa had cropped up due to economic slowdown at the international level. “I have taken up the issue with the central ministry. If relaxation is given, it will help Goa to increase footfalls of foreign tourists,” he said.

Ajgoankar also said that tourist security cell and flying squad are maintaining patrolling on the beaches. “A day and night patrolling is carried out on beaches to keep a watch on violation of rules as regard to drinking on beaches. We have made a provision for a fine of Rs 10,000 on a group of persons that drinks on beaches,” he said, adding that he will not allow nuisance and encroachments on beaches.

The Tourism Minister said that the state government has received Rs 200 crore under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the central government and appealed to the MLAs of coastal constituencies to come forward with proposals to utilise the fund.

As regards to official language demand, the minister said that he will try to give justice to Konkani, an official language, as well as Marathi.

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