Panaji, Aug 15 (IANS) The Comptroller and Auditor General has hauled up Goa’s tourism ministry on multiple grounds — from beach cleanliness to tourist safety and, more generally, for poor planning.
The scathing criticism, contained in its latest report, ironically comes at a time when the ministry has been patting itself on the back for a 30 per cent rise in footfalls this year.
“The follow-up audit of promotion of tourism in Goa shows some action has been initiated by the department for implementing recommendation relating to construction of sewerage and solid waste management projects and commencement of tourism projects.
“However, the department is yet to implement recommendations regarding introduction of a new tourism policy. The cleanliness and amenities for tourists are still lacking,” the CAG report said.
Criticising the tourism authorities for not binding enough safeguards into multi-crore contracts awarded to beach cleaning contractors, the report said that performance on this count was below par.
“We observed that the beach cleaning works by the contractors was unsatisfactory due to non-deployment of adequate manpower, non-placing of adequate dust bins and non-removal of garbage. The mechanical cleaning envisaged in the contract was yet to commence. It was also seen that the department has not initiated any measures to penalise persons who litter at tourist places,” the report said.
The CAG report has also said that the ministry shortchanged the issue of safety of tourists, by undercutting on the number of personnel deputed for safety of the around four million tourists who visit the state every year.
Safety apart, the CAG also pointed out the lack of promised facilities like parking lots, changing rooms and toilets on Goa’s popular beaches, which account for most of the tourism footfalls.
“Except for the construction of a parking lot at Baga and toilets and changing rooms in Calangute, there were no changes in the infrastructure facilities like parking, toilets, changing rooms, access roads, etc.,” the report said.
“Seven beaches out of 13 verified by the audit team along with department personnel did not have identified parking lots, eight did not give toilets and 12 were without changing rooms,” the report further stated.
“Only five vehicles out of 12 available were being utilised for patrolling. Further, only 92 policemen (500 personnel had been promised for tourist safety) of India Reserve Battalion were deployed at tourist places and no action was initiated to create the additional 500 posts,” the report said.
The report also observed slackness on the part of the tourism authorities as far as effective tourism promotional measures are concerned.
“We observed that the department has not framed any plan, policy or guidelines for electronic and print media campaigns, advertisements and promotional activities,” the report said.
It also said that the inability of the tourism ministry to integrate environment impact assessment (EIA) processes at the feasibility stage of tourism projects had led to delays in their completion.
“The GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation) apprised that EIA was not required in usual government projects. The reply was not acceptable on ground of inordinate delays in execution of central financial assistance projects owing to public agitations, coastal zone management issues and dropping of two projects (Goa Haat and Convention Centre),” the report said.
Goa’s conventional tourist season starts in October and winds up in March, when the mild winter sun works as a good break for travellers from Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and other European countries from the harsh winter in their countries. Four million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of whom are foreigners.