The Congress on Wednesday alleged that three successive BJP-led governments in Goa had facilitated several illegalities in an eco-tourism project promoted by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's son Abhijat in a south Goa village next to a wildlife sanctuary.
BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar has however rubbished the allegations as "baseless", saying the party had full faith that Mr Parrikar as well as his son would not commit any illegality.
At a press conference jointly addressed by AICC Secretary A. Chellakumar, state Congress president Girish Chodankar, former Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane, leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar and others, the Congress also alleged that a forested area, which is part of the 83,625 square metre plot owned by the Chief Minister's son was allegedly deforested in the guise of an eco-tourism project.
"The eco-tourism project which was initiated in 2013, was fast-tracked by various government agencies like the Investment Promotion Board, the Town and Country Planning department and the Forest department. Laws were also by-passed and a fresh ordinance was also passed in order to facilitate the project," Goa Congress legal cell and former advocate general Carlos Ferreira alleged.
"Since then there have been three governments headed by the BJP, from 2012-2014 by Parrikar himself, from 2014-2017 headed by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and the current government headed by Parrikar. All three have been party to this nepotism and facilitation of illegalities, which includes deforestation too," he claimed.
Mr Ferreira said that they had filed a petition in the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on December 4, demanding a stay on the project, as well as seeking restoration of the forested site where construction activity and deforestation has been carried out.
Speaking to IANS, Mr Tendulkar dismissed as "rubbish" the allegations made by the Congress leaders.
"There is no illegality in the project. He (Abhijat Parrikar) has purchased the land. Parrikar's son will not do anything against the law. We have full faith in Parrikar as well as his son that they will not commit any illegality," he said.
Abhijat Parrikar did not respond to phone calls for a comment. Messages sent to his mobile phone also did not yield a response.