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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Goa Congress alleges corruption in beach cleaning tender; minister says process transparent

Congress legislator Reginaldo Lourenço, who had earlier raised the matter in the Goa assembly, alleged large scale corruption in the deal.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2019 09:49 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustan Times, Panaji
In April this year, the Goa government had floated a tender calling on agencies to bid for providing comprehensive services for cleaning of various beaches in Goa including collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of garbage, etc.
In April this year, the Goa government had floated a tender calling on agencies to bid for providing comprehensive services for cleaning of various beaches in Goa including collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of garbage, etc. (Reuters FILE)
         

The opposition Congress has accused the Goa government of ‘inflating tender estimates’ when calling for bids to appoint agencies for cleaning the state’s beaches, a charge denied by the tourism minister.

Congress legislator Reginaldo Lourenço, who had earlier raised the matter in the Goa assembly, alleged large scale corruption in the deal.

“Earlier the government was spending Rs 9 crore per year. Even at that time, the Goa Lokayukta had raised questions about the cost. Now, they want to take it from Rs 9 crore to Rs 40 crore,” Reginaldo said.

The president of the Congress’ state unit Girish Chodankar alleged that the “corruption” lay in the inflated estimates.

“The corruption lies in inflating the estimates. Further, the consultant which drew up the estimates has no prior experience in beach cleaning. On what basis have they advised the government?” Chodankar asked.

The state’s minister for tourism Manohar Ajgaonkar denied any wrongdoing.

“The government is in the process of finalising the appointment of a beach cleaning agency and is following a foolproof and transparent process. We will follow a thorough compliance for comprehensive and systematic disposal of garbage as per the solid waste management guidelines,” Ajgaonkar said.

In April this year, the Goa government had floated a tender calling on agencies to bid for providing comprehensive services for cleaning of various beaches in Goa including collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of garbage, etc. The estimated cost was set at Rs 30 crore, not including bank guarantees that the agencies would be required to provide.

The tender was the government’s second attempt after its first tender process resulted in only one bidder being eligible.

In 2016, the Goa government had terminated the contracts of two previous contractors -- M/s Bhumika Cleantech Services Pvt Ltd and M/s Ram Cleansers & Developers Private Limited, following a direction by the state Lokayukta, which had conducted an inquiry into the tendering process.

Without a beach cleaning agency, the government invoked an emergency clause under the waste management rules as a temporary measure and asked the lifeguarding agency Drishti Marine to also clean the beaches.

Congress’ Chodankar said the company has been given nine extensions without any tendering process.

A Drishti spokesperson said it wasn’t their fault that the government delayed the tender.

“Drishti is doing the work for the last 2 years at half the (earlier) price and has saved the Government over Rs 20 crores. There has been no enhancement of our rates to even deal with basic inflation of prices,” the company said in a statement to the media.

“Our beach cleaning contract expired on 15 July 2019. From July till date, we have extended our work purely on the verbal commitment and assurance of the minister that work order will be released for the interim period of work by revised work order at the earliest,” it said.

Director of tourism department Sanjiv Gadkar said at Rs 30 crore for a three-year period, the present tender estimates were not significantly above what the government was currently paying the beach cleaning agency.

“It works out to around Rs 10 crore per year. We are currently paying around Rs 9 crore per year,” Gadkar said.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 09:48 IST

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