John Lobo, Shack Owner’s Welfare Society secretary made allegations that the shack owners have been harassed by the tourism department officials over minor discrepancies and demanding bribes. Lobo alleged that on the instructions of tourism minister Rohan Khaunte, they have been harassed every day throughout the season.
“There is a place called ‘sopo’ at Guirim in Mapusa. Everyone goes there to pay bribe money. I’m being harassed because I did not go there to pay the bribe,” claimed Lobo. He said that the tourism department should issue the shack operators with notices if they have done some illegalities. “But it is not done, because the intent is something else” he added.
Lobo had raised the issue on a WhatsApp group of beach shack owners. However, the issue was not shared with Khaunte. One of the people who approached them to collect bribes at his shack works in the tourism department, he claimed. He also said that he sent away the person who came to collect bribes from his shack because they couldn’t produce their identity card and he told him they had no right to touch any of his things.
Lobo accused the tourism department of favouring non-Goan traders. He said that through the proposed model shacks, the tourism department is trying to push the Goan shack operators out of the trade. The department conducted a drive for the first time against alleged illegalities of shack operators due to shacks putting deck beds in excess and also occupying excess space by placing chairs and tables outside. This isn’t the first time that beach shack operators and owners have claimed to have been harassed by the tourism department. But the latest allegations of seeking bribes and pointing fingers at the tourism minister have aggravated a few in the government and the industry.
Tourism Minister, Rohan Khaunte reacted to the allegations that staff members of his department harass beach shack operators and demand bribes. He said that if needed, he would have the issue probed by the vigilance department. The allegations are “serious and reflect badly on tourism,” said Mr Khaunte.
He said that he would ask the police to investigate and he added that Lobo should reveal the names of those who demand bribes, or share any other forms of evidence that he may have to support the investigation. Talking about the seriousness of the allegations, he said that if there is rot in his department he wants to weed it out. But if the allegations are some kind of political stunt, then he would not take it lightly.
He said that he will not tolerate such types of allegations and will ask for immediate Police enquiry into it. If any person is found guilty of any form of illegalities, stern action will be taken against the perpetrators. Khaunte also said that while making the new shack policy everybody will be taken into confidence.
Shack Owner’s Welfare Society secretary, John Lobo alleged that the tourism department officials have been harassing shack operators and demanding bribes from them. Lobo claimed that the shack operators have been harassed often on the instruction of the tourism minister, Rohan Khaunte. He responded to the allegations and urged Lobo to provide evidence to support his claims and help with the investigation. He also said that the allegations are serious and if they are some form of media stunt, strict actions will be taken.