Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) spokesperson Sudip Tamankar speaking to media persons on Tuesday at the party office in Panaji, lashed out at the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government for its connivance in what he termed was the “Sunburn Scam”. “When the Congress was in power, he (Parrikar) was at the forefront of the protests against Sunburn. Parrikar and other BJP leaders had vowed they would not let Sunburn take place in North Goa if the party came to power. He had accused Congress MLAs of corruption and went to the extent of saying that drugs were openly sold at the Sunburn venue. However, when the BJP came to power, Sunburn was given a single window clearance. Not just that, the State of Goa lost at least Rs 10 crore in revenue by means of entertainment tax, given that almost 3 lakh people attended the event,” Tamankar said. He was responding to a query about a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by social action forum SpeakGoa on the alleged bribery and corruption associated with the mega event. SpeakGoa is in the process of collating evidence and will knock on the doors of the High Court of Bombay at Goa praying for an investigation as to how only approximately Rs 2 crore was collected by way of entertainment tax.
SpeakGoa has demanded a judicial inquiry into allegations of corruption and tax evasion during Sunburn 2012. According to Salvador De Costa, convener of the anti-corruption social forum, “the Manohar Parrikar-led government in Goa has overlooked and turned a blind-eye to the allegations of bribery and tax evasion of totally over Rs 12 crore. As per SpeakGoa’s estimates, about Rs 5 core were distributed as bribes, kickbacks and other freebees including those in the form of free passes and given out as largesse to various government and police officials, including MLAs and others in positions of power. In addition to the above Rs 5 crore paid under-the-table, a tax evasion of about Rs 10 crore is quite likely given the numbers present at the venue on the three days of the event.” These free passes were later on sold in black, SpeakGoa has alleged.
The organizers of the event Percept have gone on record in writing in a communique to the department of Tourism stating that the maximum numbers of free passes were given out this season and the increase in the number of free passes was over 200 per cent. SpeakGoa has alleged that the passes were sold in black by some Tourism department officials in connivance with some other senior government officials, thus causing a huge loss to the State Exchequer. “The government has turned a blind eye to all the allegations of corruption and wrong doing during the mega event. There is no transparency and the entire process is shrouded in a cloud of secrecy, obviously to hide the nefarious and corrupt activity of persons in power in the BJP government,” the GPCC spokesperson said.