Goa's land scam haunts two Congress ex-CMs

PANAJI: Three years after the Congress-led coalition government in Goa cancelled seven controversial special economic zone (SEZ) allotments, the scam is back to haunt two of the party\'s former

Published: 06th December 2011 05:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 03:24 PM   |  A+A-

PANAJI: Three years after the Congress-led coalition government in Goa cancelled seven controversial special economic zone (SEZ) allotments, the scam is back to haunt two of the party's former chief ministers and a legislator.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a complaint to Director General of Police Aditya Arya last week accused former chief ministers Pratapsing Rane, now the assembly speaker, and Luizinho Faleiro and legislator Chandrakant Kavlekar, who was chairman of the Goa Industrial Development Corp (GIDC), an government agency for allotment of industrial land, of involvement in the scam.

"The evidences prima facie show that the GIDC's board of directors, the GIDC officials and other public servants and some of the beneficiaries of SEZ allotments conspired together and there was an abetment of commission of offences and gross deviations and violations of rules, and forgery of records in the allotment of SEZ plots...," Parrikar said in his complaint. He alleged that land was illegally given to SEZ promoters, even before the state SEZ policy was formulated.

"Rane as chief minister and Faleiro as industries minister at that time are directly involved in the scam. They have received kickbacks for making allotments without following law," Parrikar told reporters after he filed the complaint. While Rane is the assembly speaker, Faleiro is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body in the Congress.

Arya said that police would act "only after scrutinising the complaint". Rane claimed that the complaint was a political gimmick, considering the fact that the state assembly polls were scheduled sometime before May 2012.

"I wanted the SEZ in Goa so that youth could get jobs in Goa...Some people had come to me with the SEZ application, I just wrote there 'please help these people' (on the application). The board (IDC) takes the final decision. I have nothing to do with allotment," Rane said. "Why is the BJP raking up this after so many years? This is a political stunt," Rane said.

Congress spokesperson Mauvin Godinho said that if a complaint was filed, then "law must take its own course". But he also cautioned that the BJP was using first information reports (FIRs) to threaten Congress leaders.

"Using FIRs started in Tamil Nadu, and now it is being done in Goa to harass politicians. The BJP has filed the FIRs with elections in mind," Godinho told IANS. The SEZ promoters in question are Meditab Specialities Pvt. Ltd., Cipla group, Peninsular Pharma Research Ltd., Paradigm Logistic and Distributors, Planetview Mercantile Pvt. Ltd., Inox Mercentile Pvt. Ltd., and Maxgrow.

The state government was forced to de-notify the allotment of land to the SEZ promoters in the face of stiff civil society protests a couple of years back.

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