‘Goa’s development plan focuses on opportunities beyond tourism’

Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister of Goa, speaks about his plans for development of Goa, job creation, smart cities and coordination issues between the Special Purpose Vehicle and Corporation of City of Panaji, and a host of other issues including tourism and security

You took over the reins of Goa after one of the tallest leaders of the state Mr. Manohar Parrikar passed away. What is the vision that you have for Goa and in which direction you want to take the state?
Goa is a tourist state. It’s a huge industry. We need to develop the entire infrastructure related to the tourism industry. My focus is on the youth, their career and their job opportunity and for that purpose while developing the touristic state it is also imperative that the job-oriented industries should come to Goa, the job oriented touristic projects should come to Goa and of course we need to develop our state as number one state in the country. That is my vision.

Panaji is being developed as a smart city. How is it going to help the state? Are you pushing it in the direction of tourism only or overall development where there can be job opportunities and other development projects will come to the state as well?
Though the tourism industry is the backbone of the state but my focus is not just on that. We are developing the state as an IT hub also, for the industrial sector. All these industries should grow in the state of Goa together. That’s why we have a good IT policy; we also have good industrial policy. Within a short period, we are coming up with mining Industry policy too. Along with the tourism, we are developing our agricultural, pisciculture and all other related sectors.

Mining is one big factor and a contentious issue in Goa. The state is facing a lot of problems related to mining. Even there are court cases. There have been media reports about illegal mining. How are you going to sort it out?
The matter is sub-judice. We are in touch with the central government. Definitely we will come up with a solution by the month of November.

One thing I realised while speaking to various stakeholders on the issue of smart city project that the municipal corporation and the smart city corporation are not on the same page.
I don’t think so. Already the concern of Corporation of City of Panjim has been factored in. Now CCP and the smart city project is working in tandem and there is complete coordination. I have already given the instructions, henceforth in the coming board meeting MLA of Panaji will be one of the board members of smart city project and also the mayor of Panaji city will be the member of the board.

Ok so that has been sorted out because that was one of the complaints that the mayor had that corporation is not consulted on the smart city project.
Well that is not the case. All the projects that are undertaken by smart city are awarded by CCP itself.

How is the smart city project going as of now?
It is going according to the plan whatever they had decided. I think definitely they will complete the targets within that period.

Goa is a prominent tourist destination. The question of security also comes in because there have been incidents in the past. There have even been killings and other related crimes. So how are you going to deal with that?
Goa is a state, which believes in Atithi Devo Bhava. We are providing 100 per cent security for all the tourists. Sometimes some incident happens that is not always in our hand but most of the time our all police personnel are out there and they are taking care of all the security and ensure no untoward incident takes place.

There is massive construction activity going on in Goa at the moment. There are concerns about the resulting pollution and environmental degradation. How do you propose to balance between development and these concerns which are genuine?
When we talk about urban development, there will be definitely some side effects. If we want something good, we need to struggle too. We are thinking ahead for another 25 years or so. It will take not more than one year to complete our infrastructural projects. We will finish them within this period. These sufferings are for a short period and it will be solved soon.

Are you seeking any technological help to contain environmental degradation?
Whatever care is required to stop the environmental degradation is being taken. To begin with we execute the construction projects in such a way that it should not harm the environment. If something is happening somewhere, we immediately take action.

You are going to organise Vibrant Goa for the first time. How many delegates are you expecting and is there any target that you have in mind so far as attracting investment is concerned?
Vibrant Goa foundation is an Expo held for the first time in Goa. It is a summit organised for all the investors in Goa from October 17th to 19th. We are already working on it. Delegates from both national and international level are visiting. Definitely, it will be one big event for the state. We cannot say what is the investment target now but almost 400 international delegates have already registered and more than 2000 national delegates have registered. We are going to have G2G meeting and B2B meeting. Students are also involved. There is a huge involvement of people in this program. This will bring good investment to the state of Goa.

So on one side is tourism and other side is industrial development for which Vibrant Goa is happening.
Of course, we have just received an award for adventure tourism and then on the other side for the development of the state we require investment and we are trying our level best.

All India Institute of Local Self-Government is going to organise South Asian City Summit in March 2020 in Goa. More than 300 delegates will attend of which 100 will be from abroad. What message would you like to give to the delegates?
Definitely, we always welcome different types of Summit, different types of programs, which is in the interest of the state. The program organised by AIILSG involves South Asian cities and other countries as well. It is also special as it is involving local bodies. We welcome all the national and international delegates in Goa.

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