New Delhi, August 2: Goa government on Tuesday urged the state legislative assembly to take strict action against the people found drinking on the state beaches. In this, the state Tourism minister announced that soon drinking alcohol on sea beaches can land the offenders in jail.

Emphasising their grave nature of handling the issue, the minister said police had in the past booked a few cases against tourists caught drinking on beaches. Tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said that beaches should be clean and there should be no illegal act on them.

“The beaches should be clean and there should not be any illegality on them. We have also stopped people drinking on the beaches. We will not mind arresting them, if required,” Ajgaonkar told the House.

“We will be amending the Tourist Trade Act, giving more powers… I have asked the tourist guards to be on the vigil against the sale of drugs. No one will be allowed to take law into their hands,” he said.

Ajgaonkar was responding to a question tabled by Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco.

In May this year, police in the tourist state had asked its personnel to arrest people found drinking in public places. At a meeting held in Calangute that month, citizens had complained about drinking on beaches as well other public places and no action being taken against them.

Meanwhile, replying to another question, the state on Tuesday refused to withdraw the contract signed with the lifeguard agency to man the beaches, claiming that the government could not run such services.

“The state government used to run lifeguard services in the past. But since the government could not run it in a satisfactory manner, it was outsourced to a private firm,” chief minister Manohar Parrikar said.

Responding to the demand made by the opposition benches, the Chief Minister ruled out that the government end the services of the private agency.

Ajgaonkar hailed Drishti Lifesaving Private Ltd for doing “excellent” job of saving the lives on the beaches.

“So many lives have been saved by the lifeguards, who are attached to this agency. We need to save lives of people so that tourism thrives,” Ajgaonkar said.

He said that total 3,033 lives were saved during the last five years by the agency, which has 677 lifeguards on its roll of which 83 per cent are Goans.

Drishti is a Mumbai-based firm. The opposition legislators, including Jeniffer Monserratte and Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, demanded that since there were majority Goans working as a lifeguard, the services should be given to any state-level company.

“If Goans are available to take over this contract, then they can come ahead. Let them participate in the tendering process to win the contract,” Ajgaonkar said.

(With agency inputs)