Goa Congress chief demands audit of naval projects in Goa

Panaji: The Congress’ Goa unit on Monday demanded an audit of all projects undertaken by the Indian Navy in the coastal state, including constructions in naval bases.

State party president Shantaram Naik also claimed that according to the Defence Ministry, permission under state laws is not required for navy projects.

At a press conference here, he said that the Defence Ministry, in a much delayed written reply to a question raised by him as a Rajya Sabha member, had said, that no state level permissions were required for sanctioning of naval projects, as they fall under the Item 4, List 1 of the Union list of Articles, dealing with subjects which are exclusively covered by the central government.

“We need an audit now to see how much work has been carried out in the naval base without permission from the state government. Other Central government projects shoud also be audited. While Defence Ministry has claimed that no permission is required from state government agencies, we insist that permission from local panchayat and municipal bodies is required for all central government projects, including the navy,” Naik said.

Naik said that he had asked the question in the Rajya Sabha more than two years back, when he was a member and Manohar Parrikar, now the Goa Chief Minister, was then the Defence Minister, but the response was sent to him after two years.

“I had asked the Defence Ministry to spell out the number of residential units constructed by the Indian Navy in Goa and whether permissions had been sought from locally elected bodies for these residential quarters. In light of the answer now received by me from the Rajya Sabha, the residential quarters of the Indian Navy appear to be illegal,” Naik said.

The issue of alleged land-hogging by the Indian Navy has been been a bone of contention in Goa and dates back to the liberation of the coastal state from Portuguese in 1961.

Both the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party have accused the armed forces, including the navy which operates three naval bases in Goa and the Indian Army, of unfairly occupying prime real-estate.

Some years back, political parties across party lines had opposed the Indian Navy’s attempts to take over two islands, Grande and St. George for “security purposes”.