The gross irregularities and complete mismanagement in the department of tourism have come to the fore, following revelation by Drishti Marine, the beach cleaning agency that it carried out beach cleaning work for five months – between December 2016 and April 2017 – without any work order from the department.
The particular agency has recently stopped cleaning of beaches in Goa, following non-renewal of its contract.
A communiqué from Drishti states that the agency was awarded the work of beach cleaning by nomination from the government on an emergency basis in December 2016 as garbage was piling up on the beaches of Goa.
“Drishti was not asked to quote a rate or given any indication on the process or manner of payment,” the communiqué states, pointing out, “This was a request from the highest authorities at a time when the situation was urgent.” It further maintains, “Drishti started work the day it got instructions to start work, with no work order, and the first work order was issued in May 2017, 5 months after commencing our work.”
Incidentally, the highly-placed sources informed this daily that Drishti was awarded the work and was given repeated extensions despite the fact that it had no previous experience in beach cleaning. This revelation also exposes the fact that no monitoring of the work was done by the department for the first five months.
Meanwhile, the High Court of Bombay in Goa is all set to hear on November 21 a petition filed by a beach cleaning contractor Joaquim Silveira opposing decision of the department of tourism to award beach cleaning contract to Drishti without floating any tender.
Incidentally, Drishti has also approached the court arguing on the leniency pertaining to the eligibility criteria linked to awarding the beach cleaning work, which includes aspects like turnover of the company, experience, bank guarantee and so on. Both the petitions would now be jointly heard on November 21.
Silveira states that the department of tourism should have gone for a tender to appoint a beach cleaning agency immediately after the contract of the previous two contractors was terminated by the department.
It was also stated that the government officials should have learnt a lesson after Goa Lokayukta referred back the previous alleged beach cleaning scam to the Anti Corruption Bureau for a detailed probe.
Further, Silveira points out that he was one of the beach-cleaning contractors from 2007 to 2014 when the contract was awarded through a tender at an estimated cost of Rs 1.80 crore. However, later similar tender was awarded at an estimated cost of Rs 9 crore, it was informed. It was also stated that when an extension was given to Drishti after initial 106 days stop-gap arrangement, there was no fresh technical sanction to it from the government.
An apprehension was also expressed on the capability of the department of tourism to undertake the beach cleaning work, going by the shortage of capability and manpower expertise to carry out such a work.
It was further argued that since same type of manual beach cleaning work was being done after 2014, why the amount was increased from Rs 1.80 crore to Rs 9 crore.
Drishti has completed 23 months of beach cleaning service for the department of tourism through multiple extensions.