Panaji: Constant reportage on illegal mining in Goa in the national and internationl media would drive tourism to Malaysia and Thailand from the popular beach destination, a Congress MP said here on Monday. "Who will visit us if people try to project a wrong image of Goa to achieve political objectives? Tourists would prefer Kerala or Rajasthan and, outside India, places like Malaysia or Thailand," Goa's lone Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik told reporters here.
Naik's statement follows a slanging match between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders over responsibility for Goa's mammoth Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam, unearthed by the Justice M.B. Shah Commission last month. The findings of the Shah Commission as well as subsequent developments have since been consistently reported in the media. While Congress leaders said that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa was siding with the mining lobby and not cracking down on those responsible for illegal mining, the BJP has said that illegal mining was at its peak when the Congress was in power from 2005 to 2012.
"Do not malign Goa for nasty political ends, and tell the entire nation and the world how bad we are," Naik said, adding that "irresponsible persons" were spreading a malicious message that there is nothing in Goa except illegal mining. The Shah Commission report held that a politician-bureaucrat-mining lobby nexus was responsible for the illegal mining in the state.