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Former Goa CM Digambar Kamat denies any involvement in Louis Berger case

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Panaji: Former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on Wednesday said that he had nothing to do with the Louis Berger case in which a $976,630-bribe was paid for securing a water and sewerage project here.

Photo Credit: www.thehindubusinessline.com
Photo Credit: www.thehindubusinessline.com

 

“I have nothing to do with JICA (Japan International Co-operation Agency) project. The file did not come to me,” Kamat said.

The Congress leader is expected to depose before the Crime Branch, which is probing the case, in which an official has been arrested and former public works department minister Churchill Alemao has already been questioned.

Top officials of Louis Berger have already pleaded guilty to offering bribes to the tune of $3.9 million to secure contracts in countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait.

While the settlement announced by the US Justice Department did not identify the politicians and officials who were offered the bribes, the documents revealed that $976,630 (around Rs.6.3 crore) in bribes was paid during 2009-2010 to a Goa minister and other officials.

Louis Berger was part of a consortium that eventually won a contract to execute a water and sewerage project in Goa, funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA).

McClung was the senior vice president of the India region for Louis Berger when the bribes were allegedly paid, according to the observations made by the US court.

The crime branch team has already recorded statements of former Indian officials of the consultancy firm about the alleged bribes paid to Kamat as well as Alemao in 2010 to win the JICA contract. Alemao has also denied accepting bribes to offer the consultancy to Louis Berger.

(IANS)

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Goa Acknowledges Drop in Tourist Arrivals

Goa is one of the top beach and nightlife destinations in the country and last year attracted more than seven million tourists, out of which half a million were foreigners

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Calvim Ferry in Goa. Goa can be
Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting. Wikimedia Commons

Tourists arrival in Goa is on decline, acknowledged Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar here on Wednesday and underlined the need to work out solutions to address the issue.

“There is a drop in tourist arrivals in Goa and it needs to be looked into seriously,” Ajgaonkar told reporters after chairing the meeting with the industry stakeholders in Panaji.

“The problems identified will be looked into jointly after taking into confidence all the tourism associations and stakeholders,” the minister said.

Travel and tourism industry stakeholders are expected to submit a comprehensive report on issues affecting tourist arrivals, an official said.

New Year Eve Party
Goa. (Wikimedia Commons)

Industry stakeholders have cried hoarse trying to draw the government’s attention to dropping tourist footfall over the past few years, and blaming the Tourism Ministry for not doing enough to promote the state.

At the meeting, industry stakeholders, led by Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president Savio Messias, urged Ajgaonkar to address the issues plaguing the industry like harassment of tourists, nuisance caused by organised begging at tourist locations, unreasonable taxi charges by local operators, and the high goods and services tax (GST) rate.

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Ajgaonkar assured that his ministry would review the marketing strategy to promote Goa as a tourism destination more efficiently.

Goa is one of the top beach and nightlife destinations in the country and last year attracted more than seven million tourists, out of which half a million were foreigners. (IANS)