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Saturday, January 28 2023

“BJP Government too signed Louis Berger for airport project”

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Panaji: After the plea bargain in the US, by two executives of a US based consultancy firm Louis Berger in the matter of bribery for water project contracts in Goa and Assam, Defense Minister, and a former chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parikkar had  hinted that bribes were paid by the firm to two former ministers in the state. At the time the contracts to Louis Berger were awarded, the Goa PWD Minister was Churchill Alemao and the Chief Minister, Digambar Kamath, both of the Congress Party.

louisbergerThe former Goa PWD minister Churchill Alemao has attacked the Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and the BJP over allegations involving US firm Louis Berger, asking why the ruling party had signed the same firm for the Mopa International Airport project.

“The consultancy firm was paid Rs 14 crore for the Mopa project. The government should tell people how much commission it received. If the government acknowledges that Louis Berger gives bribe to win projects, the same thing would have happened for Mopa as well. That project needs to be investigated too,” Alemao told The Indian Express. “If the honourable Defence Minister claims to know so much, why did he hire the same consultancy for the Mopa project?” he added.

Alemao said he did not fear any probe and his conscience was clean. “I am ready to face any inquiry, be it CBI or any other agency. I challenge the BJP government to prove these charges against me.”

He added, “I do not recognize any official from Louis Berger. They never met me. All the contracts were given as per rules. The entire process was handled by engineers of the technical department of PWD. I had no role to play. As per rules, once the technical department processes the tender, the file goes to the Chief Minister.”

Alemao said that Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar’s direction to the state crime branch to probe the matter was inadequate, and the CBI needed to be roped in.

Asked if he meant that officials had taken bribes, Alemao said he was not aware. “You should ask the BJP government. How will I know if engineers took bribes?” he said.

Targeting Parrikar, Alemao said, “The defense minister comes to Goa every Saturday and Sunday and misguides the people. The state had a debt of Rs 8,000 crore when the Congress demitted office and Parrikar took it to Rs 13,000 crore. He created a propaganda that our government had caused a Rs 35,000 crore loss to the exchequer in the mining scam. Why was he not able to recover that amount when he was in power? The defense minister has a habit of making U-turns,” he said.

Alemao was briefly the chief minister in 1990 and has had cases of smuggling filed against him in 1994. He has also quit and rejoined the Congress three times.

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