In a bid to diffuse the controversy stirred by Goa Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai calling domestic tourists as “scum of earth”, state Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said that everyone was welcome to the state, provided they do not urinate on roads and add to the state’s garbage woes.
Parrikar also said that Sardesai’s comment will not impact tourism in the coastal state. He added that while the choice of Sardesai’s words was harsh, he did not intend to incite violence.
“Everyone is welcome, subject to (the) condition that he should not urinate on the roads or strew garbage,” Parrikar told reporters.
“He (Sardesai) asked me a question whether it will impact (the tourist flow). I do not think it will impact… I will prefer to have a good and responsible tourist from any place in the world,” Parrikar added.
The Chief Minister said that basic social etiquettes applied to the locals as well.
Sardesai had stoked a controversy last week by denigrating the credentials of tourists visiting Goa and accusing north Indians of trying to convert Goa into another Haryana.
He had referred to the 6.5 million domestic tourists visiting Goa every year as “scum of the earth”.
“He should not have used harsh words. I spoke to him… he did not intend to, but it is not that his logic was wrong.
“But it was interpreted in a wrong way… He corrected it the next day,” Parrikar said while commenting on Sardesai’s remarks.
The Chief Minister said that in view of the on-going infrastructure development works in the state, the number of inbound tourists was likely to touch the 10 million mark in the next one or two years, from the current figure of nearly seven million.
Even as Goa readies for the closure of its iron ore mines next month, following a Supreme Court order, Manohar Parrikar said it is not possible for governments to suddenly disrupt the economic trajectory of a state and all stakeholders, including the judiciary, will have to take that into consideration vis-a-vis decision-making.
“Without going into the merits of the judgement,… Goa is facing economic problems — is a fact,” the Chief Minister said.
“Now all stakeholders, including the judiciary will have to take into consideration economic trajectory. It is not possible for governments to suddenly disrupt the economic trajectory,” Parrikar told reporters.
His comment came as Goa readied for closure of its 88 iron ore mines in March following the cancellation of their leases by the Supreme Court on February 7.
Cancelling the leases of all existing iron ore mines in Goa the apex court ordered that the mining tracts should be leased afresh to new licencees after obtaining new environmental clearances.
Addressing a press conference after meeting with a cross-section of legislators, Parrikar also said that a final decision on the resumption of mining and mode of leasing of the mines will be taken in 15-20 days.
The Chief Minister, however, said that the economic impact of the closure would not be as much as it was in 2012, when iron ore export was at its peak.
“The revenue from last year (from mining sector) will not exceed Rs 300 crore (in direct revenue), indirect (revenue) maybe around Rs 50 to Rs 100 crore. So Rs 300 crore in a total net budgetary size of Rs 10,000 crore. Financially, it is three to four per cent,” Parrikar said.
The country’s leading exporter of low-grade iron ore, Goa, exported nearly 50 million tonnes before the Shah Commission in 2012 exposed a Rs 35,000 crore scam, triggering a ban on mining in the state.
The top court in February cancelled all those leases that were again renewed for 20 years from 2007.
Observing that all these leases were renewed “hastily” and were “illegal”, the top court ordered that all ore extraction activity on the renewed leases should cease by March 15.
The Chief Minister also chided the media for indulging in speculations.
“Once we have a policy (on mining) we will tell you. Until then you keep speculating. It is a good business for you to go on speculating. We have not taken any decision… It will be finalised after discussion. I will take 15-20 days…” Parrikar said.