PANAJI: Stunned by allegations made by Shack Owners of bribe, Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte has directed Tourism Director to file a police complaint against the Prevention of Corruption Act on allegations made by Shack Owners Association Secretary John Lobo.
“I have directed the director to file a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Ensure action is initiated on the statement made by some stake holder,” Khaunte said.
The Shack Owners’ Welfare Society secretary, John Lobo, on Tuesday alleged that the tourism department officials have been harassing the shack operators over minor discrepancies and demanding bribes.
“The allegations are very serious, and I will take it to logical conclusion. Is the issue political? If required, we will initiate a judicial inquiry,” he said.
Khaunte hit back at John, saying that 30 per cent of shacks in Calangute are sub-let to Delhi wallahs.
“I don’t know when the allegation comes from on the last day of tourism season. I met John Lobo a few days back but he did not say anything,” said Khaunte.
He also said that John is the Speaker, but the button is with someone else sitting somewhere. Khaunte may have hinted this to Calangute MLA Michael Lobo. Both the BJP leaders have been at loggerheads in recent times.
“Last one year, I have been working tirelessly to see that tourism activities are regulated. We will not support any illegalities in tourism,” he said.
Khaunte said the Shack Policy, which he is saying needs to be corrected, was done in 2019 when he was not the tourism minister.
“In fact I have given more relaxation in the shack policy by talking to CM. If anyone from Tourism Department is collecting sopo, he must tell us, and we will initiate action,” he said.
He added, “Media has already highlighted how shacks are sub-let. One who is doing illegal is paying sopo, and if you are legal, won’t pay.”
On traditional businesses, he said, Watersports and shacks are Goans’ businesses and will remain with them.
“Model shacks are legitimate, but if they don’t want, I cannot do anything,” he said
He said the new policy would ensure no illegalities in tourism, and if it happens, strict action would be initiated against those who violate norms. The policy will focus on Goemkars,” he said.
Lobo alleged that the tourism department officials have been harassing the shack operators over minor discrepancies and demanding bribes.
“We have been harassed every day, throughout the season, on the instruction of tourism minister Rohah Khaunte,” Lobo alleged.
“There is a place called ‘sopo’ at Guirim in Mapusa. Everyone goes there to pay bribe money. I’m being harassed because I did not go there to pay the bribe,” Lobo alleged.
He said the tourism department should issue notices if the shack operators had done some illegalities.
“But it is not done because the intent is something else,” he said.