Panaji: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said two ministers from Goa, including the then public works department minister, may have accepted bribes from a global consultancy firm for a water developmental project in Goa in 2010.
The firm has since admitted to a US government agency to paying a bribe of nearly one million dollars or about Rs.6.3 crore.
“The project was related to Japan International Cooperation Agency. Therefore, the then PWD minister may be involved; and since the project also deals with financial approval, there is likelihood of another minister’s involvement,” Parrikar said while addressing a meeting of party workers in Margao, 35 km from Panaji.
The then PWD minister Churchill Alemao has refused to comment on the allegations, saying he has “no idea what statement the media is quoting”.
Portions of the US government’s Justice Department documents, quoted in the national media, said two top officials of international consultancy firm Louis Berger allegedly offered a bribe of $976,630 to an Indian minister and government officials in 2010 to secure the five-year Goa Water Supply and Sewerage Project.
The documents, according to the same media reports, claim the two company officials pleaded guilty to paying the bribe.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Saturday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the bribery allegations and said he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this.
Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting, suggests Rajiv Somani, chairman and managing director of Drishti Marine, promoter of the state’s first private ferry service.
Somani, whose agency also operates a private lifeguard service along Goa’s coastline, said that the ferry service also adds to the range of offerings, in terms of “things to do” in Goa.
“The only model really close to this is the one in Venice where one can travel through waterways all the time,” Somani told IANS in an interview.
“The ferry service is more of a leisure experience. The picturesque ferry service adds to the range of offerings in terms of things to do in Goa for the hundreds and thousands of tourists who visit the state. Additionally, it also acts as a premium transit service for tourists and local residents.
“We are only targeting less than five percent of the population arriving at the airport. We understand that there are people willing to pay the fee for the trip,” he said, adding that the service would begin later this month when the tourism season begins to peak in the coastal state.
The daily ferry service will function with the help of two 40-seater, high-speed catamarans, which will ferry commuters between designated pick-up points like the state capital Panaji, heritage centres like Old Goa, beaches like Baga, Aguada and Sinquerim and the Dabolim airport.
The Airport Ferry Terminal is located at Baina beach, Vasco da Gama, and is approximately five kilometres from the Goa airport in Dabolim. A free shuttle service will be available between the ferry terminal and the airport for the convenience of passengers arriving at the airport.
Fares for the ferry service range from Rs 100 for a ride between Old Goa and Panaji to Rs 800 for a trip between the Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina and Panaji.
The ferry will operate from 22 temporary jetties spread across the state, including tourism vantage points.”
In Phase 1 and 2 we are looking at a mix of about 22 jetties. Of these, 11 are existing jetties and 11 will be floating jetties which will be constructed by us. The present government jetties exist at Panaji, Old Goa, Chapora and Sinquerim, among other places,” he said.
Asked if the service would be competing with the state’s aggressive taxi lobby, which has been combative vis-a-vis introduction of alternative modes of mass transport, Somani said: “We are not competing with the taxi operators. One thing we were always clear about: We will not do anything which is competition to the local community”.
Somani also said that ferry services had immense potential in Goa, which is crisscrossed with waterways.
“Goa has an excellent network of waterways; what’s needed is the right kind of infrastructure. One doesn’t need to erect concrete jetties everywhere; a floating jetty like the one we are currently building in Baina works just as effectively,” he said, adding that the ferry would help better water-related experiences for visitors. (IANS)
Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”
The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”
Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)
New Delhi, October 18: The CBI on Wednesday said it will look into the facts and circumstances mentioned in an interview of Michael Hershman, the first secret Bofors investigator of the Fairfax Group deployed by the Indian government.
“The agency has learnt of the matter pertaining to Bofors aired on a certain TV Channel containing interview of Michael Hershman. Facts and circumstances as mentioned in the interview will be looked into as per the due process by the CBI,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in a statement.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) move comes a day after Republic TV’s interview with Hershman, wherein he made several revelations regarding Bofors and named some powerful politicians in India linked with the deal signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi-led government and Swedish company Bofors in 1986.
The deal for 410 howitzers was completed in March 1986.
The alleged corruption in the Bofors guns deal had created a scandal in 1989, leading to the fall of Rajiv Gandhi government. Kickbacks were alleged, but no evidence was found.
In 1986, the then Finance Minister V.P. Singh ordered an investigation. To do so, Singh got in touch with private investigation group Fairfax.
Hershman, who first found the Bofors papers, was the secret investigator of the Fairfax Group, deployed by the Indian government.
Now, a six-member Public Accounts Committee’s sub-committee on defense, headed by Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, is looking into non-compliance of certain aspects of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report of 1986 on the deal. (IANS)