GIDC's mega projects have changed Goa's topography for the worse and the so-called infrastructure projects have never tendered directly to companies. When you control the prescriptions for vitamin M, why care? GIDC has spent Rs 27.83 crores on the abandoned Ravindra Bhavan at Sancoale. CAG's report said GIDC’s failure to finish the Margao Hospital on time resulted in a Rs 68.76 cr loss. Incidentally, the High Court called the SEZ scam illegal in a “manner not known to law."

July16, 2019

Lionel Messias

There is perhaps not a state in the country which has an Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), like Goa has; which has its fingers in every multi-crore construction pie and does absolutely nothing for what you thought its name was mandated for. According to its website, it was tasked to build roads, bridges, flyovers, traffic management (!), bus stands, water supply augumentation (!), hospitals, tourism-related projects etc etc. It’s possible it may have even built toilets according to some! Quickly over the last decade, it moved on from mega builder to real estate broker for the rich and mighty.

Many of its mega projects have changed the topography of Goa for the worse and as you read on you will know exactly why the GIDC exists and why Goa’s so-called infrastructure projects have never been tendered directly to private companies. The reason is obvious; when you control the prescriptions for vitamin M, why not?

Trail of destruction

But one construction that is intriguing is the incomplete Ravindra Bhavan at Sancoale whose foundation stone was laid on August 2, 2008. Till GIDC abandoned the project some years ago, it had spent Rs 27.83 crores (up to 2015). All that exists now is a run-down building (see picture). And yet last week the arts and culture minister Govind Gaude appointed a committee under him to fast track the proposed Mapusa Ravindra Bhavan to be built by GIDC. Seven already exist. In fact Mormugao taluka has two, one in Baina, Vasco, and the incomplete Sancoale one. It spent Rs 79.29 cr up to the same year on the permanently potholed Seraulim-Colva road just to ‘upgrade’ it. It also spent Rs 31.35 cr to ‘strengthen’ the Baga road which we know also is permanently stressed.

It spent Rs 89.17 crore on the Kala Academy for IFFI 2012 and despite routinely spending crores on repairs, the BJP government admitted last week that the Kala Academy needed some kind of an internal maintenance unit of its own. Between 2012-2015, GSIDC under the BJP government, spent Rs 3,308.41 cr on government projects, none of which had anything to do with the industrialization of Goa.

The haste by successive BJP governments to take to so-called ‘development’ (but of the wrong kind) for obvious reasons, is further evidenced by the fact that in January 2018, the Economic Development Corporation (this time!) chairman Sidharth Kuncalienkar announced a Rs 1,000 cr project to build a convention centre on 2.10 lakh square metres land at Dona Paula, Panjim. Kuncalienkar had the temerity to claim that the convention centre could be compared with the ongoing Mopa airport project in terms of “creating entrepreneurial activities and job creation.” His pronouncement apart, the dance with the centre is as old as seven years.    

Borrow and build, IDC’s mantra

What IDC builds, you pay for with your tax money. The state public debt in FY 2015-2016 was a huge Rs 11,344 cr, rocketing to Rs 12,433 cr in fiscal 2016-17, to Rs 13,608 cr by March 31, 2018.
The year 2014-2015 and intervening years as described above was perhaps the worst for GIDC. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused it of failing to act against 146 defaulting plot allottees that resulted in blocking 6.37 lakh square metres land, unutilized or underutilized since 1989. The land was left unutilized/underutilised for four to 24 years against the stipulated two years. The 2014-2015 CAG report said GIDC not only failed to take back the land, it also failed to penalize the defaulters resulting in a Rs 20.36 cr loss. The same report said GIDC’s failure to complete the huge Margao District Hospital on time resulted in a loss of Rs 68.76 cr. The hospital is still incomplete and its real cost when finished could be several times this loss, which means the tax payer will never know.   

But GIDC’s mother of all scams must surely be the 24 lakh sq mts in Verna, 12 lakh sq mts in Keri and two lakhs square metres in Sancoale it allotted to non-Goan firms as Special Economic Zones (SEZs). After angry public protests, the then Congress government cancelled all the SEZs and its State SEZ policy in 2008. The land was allotted by GIDC which later began trading in land; is as follows: Inox Mercantile Company: 5,20, 832 sq mts, Peninsula Pharma Research Centre: 2,00,000 sq mts, Planetview Mercantile Company: 12,36,000 sq mts, K Raheja & Corportion: 10,59,000 sq mts, Paradigm Logistics & Distribution: 3,86,665 sq mts. They paid a miserly Rs 108 cr for the 38,40,886 sq mts.

Ticlo tickles his appetite

Forget the fact that IDC now has to borrow Rs 200 cr to pay off these firms to quit. You could literally hear IDC’s current chairman Glen Ticlo rubbing his hands in glee; imagining the vitamin M, like an adrenalin rush, surely: The GIDC will benefit by three lakh square meters from this; in a convoluted explanation of IDC’s BS over decades.

Firstly, why pay these firms Rs 200 crore on a scam the High Court declared as illegal in a “manner not known to law”. In a manner not known to law Mr Ticlo. Not known to law! This apart the Supreme Court, CAG, literally every constitutional authority except Mr Ticlo, has accepted the fact that the SEZ land brokerage deal was the mother of all scams.