Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Tuesday promised a crackdown on foreigners illegally staying or carrying out businesses, especially in narcotics, in the state. Parrikar was responding to a calling attention motion in the state assembly. Legislators across party lines Tuesday discussed ways to crack down on foreign nationals conducting businesses illegally and Nigerians allegedly involved in the drug trade in the state. Earlier in the day, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Michael Lobo said tourists from Russia and Ukraine were “stealing” taxi and beach-shack businesses from local youths in the tourism-oriented coastal belt. “They come as tourists and steal businesses from local youths. Russians especially are doing this taxi business illegally, stealing opportunities from the local youths,” Lobo said. He said a lot of popular shacks along the coastline were operated by foreigners. Goa’s local taxi industry is unorganised and largely unruly, with no standardisation of fares nor proper compliance of government norms.
Against this backdrop, foreign travel operators, essentially from Russia, have started scooping up the tour business. While some have been carrying out businesses legally, Lobo claimed there were several who arrive on tourist visas and work as tour guides and tour operators. Russians account for the highest number of foreign tourists to Goa which attracts three million visitors annually, nearly half a million of which are foreigners.
Leader of Opposition Pratapsingh Rane claimed African nationals were selling drugs openly in Goa and the increasing clout of the drug mafia was spilling out on Goa’s roads. “They are selling drugs and spoiling the name of the state and putting young people at risk,” Rane said.
Responding to issues raised by the legislators, Parrikar promised action and deportation of “those who are illegally staying and doing business have to be immediately deported”.