Row over Goa leader’s son getting Rs 23.55L to scale Mount Everest
The Goa government’s 2017 decision to sanction Rs 23.55 lakh to fund the efforts of a Goa Forward Party leader’s son to summit Mount Everest has caused an uproar in the state,information tabled by sports minister Manohar Ajgaonkar in Goa assembly has revealed.
In December 2017, the government sanctioned an amount of Rs 23.55 lakh to Rahul Prabhudesai, a mountaineer attempting to scale Mount Everest in the 2018 spring-summer mountaineering season. The grant came six months after he submitted a request to then chief minister Manohar Parrikar. At the time, the GFP was an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in the state.
Rahul, who is the son of vice president of the Goa Forward Party Dilip Prabhudesai and whose mother, Babita Angle, is the chairperson of the Margao municipal council sought government funds for his expedition because “mountaineering is an expensive affair” and he needed financial help in his “endeavour to become the first Goan to attempt and hopefully summit Mount Everest” according to his letter to the then chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
HT has reviewed a copy of his request to the chief minister and file notings.
According to mountaineers it takes anything between Rs 13.5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh to summit the world’s tallest peak. Rahul’s attempt was ultimately unsuccessful at 7,600 metres, well short of the peak’s 8848 metres height, after he developed stomach pain and diarrhoea, according to the information submitted in Goa assembly on Thursday.
“Given his proximity to the former deputy CM it looks like it is a prima facie case of favouritism. This appears to be a personal mountaineering expedition. What good did it do for Goa and Goan sports in general? This is like a slap in the face of sportspersons, who are spending their own money to compete in various national and international tournaments,” said Valmiki Naik, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party Goa said.
Vijai Sardesai, the then deputy CM, is the chief of the GFP. Dilip Prabhudesai is his trusted lieutenant.
“I have no issue with the government giving money to him. But all sports should be treated equally. The Goa Boxing Association has over Rs 16 lakh that is due to us from the government. Right now when we ask for the money they say there is no money...,” Danushka D’Gama the Secretary of the Goa Boxing Association said.
Rahul’s grant was sanctioned under a scheme of the Goa Government called the “Scheme for Achieving Excellence in Sports at International Level”. Besides Rahul’s expedition , the government also handed out Rs 5 lakh to Siddesh Mashelkar who took part in the Volkswagen Ameo Cup, a motorsport tournament.
Rahul’s father, however, said it was not for him to answer whether the government was right in sanctioning the amount. “Let the government answer the questions. It is the government which sanctioned the money after due process,” Dilip Prabhudesai said. The GFP is no longer an ally of the government.