Deputy speaker Michael Lobo criticized his government for not consulting legislators and stakeholders in preparing the tourism master plan and alleged that spending Rs 5 crore on the 25-year vision document is a waste. BJP’s Calangute MLA was speaking after attending the meeting called by tourism minister Manohar Azgaonkar to discuss the proposed tourism policy, which is a part of the tourism master plan. “We were not taken into confidence. If need be, the government should prepare another master plan since stakeholders have not been consulted,” Lobo said. Blue flag certification not in fishermen’s interest: Alina Reiterating his stand that the tourism policy will be finalized only after all stakeholders are taken into confidence, Azgaonkar said that this was the reason behind convening Wednesday’s meeting. Asked why the MLA turnout for the meeting was poor, Azgaonkar said, “You ask them.”
Lobo, Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha, Aldona MLA Glenn Ticlo and MGP’s Sanvordem MLA Deepak Pauskar were the only four MLAs that attended the meet. So far, the government has paid Rs 3 crore to the consortium of KPMG Advisory Services and Tourism and Leisure Advisory Services Sl (T&L), the agency appointed to draft the tourism master plan. The agency was appointed in July 2014 and was required to complete drafting the tourism master plan within 36 weeks. The master planner has submitted four modules of the plan of which the tourism policy is the fourth module. Lobo said that the government should put its “house its order” in terms of tourism infrastructure before proceeding any further. “We are putting cart before the horse,” he said. Saldanha, who was cabinet minister in the BJP-led government at the time when the master planner was appointed, said she was not given the plan and had to demand to see it. The Cortalim MLA told reporters that she has sought another meeting with the tourism minister to discuss the master plan and that she has submitted her objections to the master plan during Wednesday’s meeting. “We cannot have blue flag certification for Goa’s beaches,” Saldanha said, adding that it would hamper the interest of local fishermen who use beach spaces to anchor their boats and fishing equipment. The blue flag certification is issued by an international agency upon fulfilling of certain criteria in beach management. Saldanha said the master planner should have suggested land requirement for building much-needed infrastructure to increase the state’s marketability on the international arena. A tourism official said a consultative process was held while preparing the plan, and that modules ready so far have been placed in the public domain. A meeting was held in Panaji wherein tourism stakeholders were invited to give their suggestions on the plan, he said. Lobo, who did not see an eye to eye with former tourism Dilip Parulekar, during whose tenure the decision on the master plan was made, said that probably the then minister only consulted party workers in his constituency.