On the road

Before storm over Brazil plans, Goa MLAs had gone to Venice to study garbage management

The World Cup fiasco has not embarrassed Goa's representatives. Many are hoping to tour Europe at the cost of Rs 4 crore to promote the upcoming Exposition of St Francis Xavier.

Months before Goa’s lawmakers booked themselves on a taxpayer-funded junket to the World Cup in Brazil to study traffic management, another batch of elected representatives had gone to Venice, among other European cities, to study garbage systems.

The 20-person delegation went to Italy, Germany and Austria in November to observe garbage management practices. Led by deputy chief minister Francisco D’Souza, the team included MLAs, panchayat members and as well as members of municipal councils. It cost the state exchequer about Rs 1 crore.

The Europe tour was marked by frequent photo updates on Facebook by members of the delegation, which included two journalists, featuring their rides on Venice’s gondolas, their attempts to prop up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the trolleys of goodies they brought back.

At the time, chief secretary B Vijayan explained the reason for the junket to The Navhind Times. “There has been resistance for such plants in Goa, which has resulted out of ignorance,” Vijayan said. “Therefore, the government wanted to show the public representatives real facts about the plants, where they existed.”

However, since the junket, not much progress has been made with regards to Goa’s attempts to build garbage management plants, especially after the Goa Catholic Church opposed one treatment site, claiming it was too close to the Old Goa Church complex.

That isn’t the only junket scripted by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition.

In 2012, three of the six MLAs who were to head to Brazil to watching the quarter-final and the semi-final World Cup matches, went to the United Kingdom to watch a motocross event.

The three politicians were among eight Goans who attended the Motocross rally to Winchester in UK to “explore the possibility of introducing motocross in Goa in a big way and also explore the possibility of hosting international motocross events in Goa in the future”, according to the Sports Authority of Goa. But the mission failed, as the state was unable to convince the organisers to even host one leg of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Goa.

Notwithstanding the Brazil fiasco, Goa’s representatives are already preparing to set out in August or September on another trip being organised by tourism minister Dilip Parulekar at the cost of Rs 4 crore. The delegation will be holding events across Europe to promote the Exposition of St Francis Xavier, a Catholic saint whose remains are preserved in a Goa church. The event, which will take place in December, is organised only once every decade. The members of the team have not been announced.

“The aim is to attract tourists from Europe for this unique event,” Parulekar said.

It isn’t only the BJP that has been dishing out junkets. In February 2011, the Congress regime organised a trip to the US cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco to promote Goa’s casinos as well as to facilitate tie-ups with entertainment promoters there.

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