PORVORIM: The Opposition benches cornered Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar for allowing Drishti Lifesaving Services Private Limited to continue with the beach cleaning for a period of two years without tendering the work. The minister said the Tourism department has already initiated the process to appoint new agency to clean the beaches, which will be completed soon.
“It’s a commitment of the State government that we keep our beaches clean. The fresh tender for the beach cleaning work has been issued on October 20, 2018 and technical bids were opened on December 5, 2018,” he said.
Congress MLAs including Philip Neri Rodrigues, Digambar Kamat and Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco also questioned him over a fresh tender of a whopping amount of Rs 55 crore. “It was earlier Rs 7 lakh and has now increased to Rs 55 crore. Why such a huge hike when instead of an agency, our Goans can be recruited for cleaning the beaches,” Lourenco said.
The minister replied the process of tendering has been taken up as per the guidelines of Central Vigilance Commission, making it transparent. He added that Drishti was assigned the work of beach cleaning on December 17, 2016 as a “stop gap arrangement” continued the work till last year when they decided to opt out asking for hike in the fees paid to them.
“The firm demanded was to increase their fees or else they would stop the work, despite their contract period till March 2019. It was then the Tourism department intervened and deployed our people to carry out beach cleaning. But since they could not cope up with it, Drishti was given the work again and requested to continue till March 2019,” he said.
Azgaonkar however went on to add that they are capable of handling beach cleaning. “The government has 100 percent guts to keep the beaches clean. You just point finger at the dirt on the beach and we will get it cleaned,” he said.
Kamat intervened into the discussion and asked Azgaonkar “to be careful or face trouble” citing that the work order to Drishti was without a tender.
The minister said the garbage collected by the beach cleaning contractor from North and South Goa is segregated as well as places identified at the beaches