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RTI Documents Expose Goa Tourism Minister’s Foreign Junkets and Travel Irregularities

Tourism Department is one of the most lucrative portfolios in the Goa and everyone wants to grab it but unfortunately, only a few do justice to it as most of them abuse the power. Something similar seems to have happened since the time this portfolio landed in the lap of our tourism minister Babu Azgaonkar. The tourism business kept falling down while the foreign junkets and travel irregularities of Babu and his associates kept rising high. 

This report is prepared with the inputs from Goa’s leading Television Channel Prudent Media who has obtained the RTI documents which shows the mass abuse of power by the tourism minister Babu Azgaonakar by making foreign trips in the name of Tourism promotion while the stakeholders of Goa Tourism Industry kept crying for the business. 

Goan taxpayers want to know how foreign trips promote Goa as a tourism destination. According to sources, Babu Azgaonkar’s foreign trip bills have always crossed over several lakhs of rupees every time. The RTI documents in possession of the TV channel have unearthed several irregularities such as bills submitted for the reimbursements have huge discrepancies But Babu seems to be relaxed and enjoying a dance at Sunburn Music Festival.

There are many bills for which trips have been made by Babu but there is no clarity over who paid for his trips and there are some bills which with the hiked up rates. The entire scenario makes things look suspicious, said the sources. 

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According to Prudent, the RTI documents have revealed that from 19th September till 21st September Babu made a trip to Moscow, Russia, It was a 3-day promotional tour but he claimed the amount for the 11 days i.e from 17th September till 28th September and extracted over 5 lakh rupees from the Government Treasury. 

Another trip Babu made to Spain from 17th to 21st January 2018 and he submitted the bills of 7 days for the tour of just 3 days and again extracted over 4 lakh rupees from the Government Treasury. Next, Babu went to Chicago in the US for attending a Road Show and again for the 3-day tour he submitted the bills for 9 days with the dates from 20 to 28 May and claimed the amount of Rs. 7.40 Lakhs from the Government treasury. 

The trips of Babu did not stop here despite the fact that tourism kept falling in the state and the stakeholders kept crying for the business. Next trip Babu made to Beijing, China. It was again 3 days tour for which he claimed over 2 lakh rupees for the 7 days. 

If you think the story ends here then you are wrong as the story of misappropriation continued with more vigour. According to the reports, Tourism Minister hosted a dinner party for the 4000 international delegates with the whopping cost of 50 lakh rupees spent in just one night. This money was spent on the event called JCI Congress a private event which took place between October – November 2018.

The current situation of the Government is such that they are living on borrowings and the cabinet ministers are spending the same money on the foreign junkets and personal benefits. There is no one to ask them why they are spending public money without any accountability. The Government is in absolute power and they do not need to answer anyone. The opposition had been reduced to a minority by their own party for the greed of power. What are views on this?  

Source: Prudent Media

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