Journalist returns award, says golf course story ‘failed’

Panaji, April 8 (IANS) The Goa government’s decision to go ahead with a controversial golf course project in Terekhol village, 70 km north of here, has triggered a controversy of sorts in media circles here.

A journalist with a Marathi newspaper here Monday returned an investigative journalism award, citing “the failure of his story to create a desired impact on ground reality”.

The journalist, Kishor Naik Gaonkar, chief reporter for the “Goa Doot”, a Marathi daily, said that he had received the Lambert Mascarenhas Award for his investigative series on “A plot to sell Tiracol village”.

He said he was giving back the award because the story had failed to have the required impact, as far as government policy was concerned.

“I have returned the Lambert Mascarenhas Award to the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) as the story for which I got the award failed to give justice to the people of Terekhol. A failed story is not worthy of an award,” Gaonkar said.

The award was instituted in honour of Lambert Mascarenhas, the first editor of Goa’s first English-language daily, “The Navhind Times”.

The village of Terekho, near the Goa border with Maharashtra, has been in the eye of controversy for some time now, after nearly an entire village was purchased by a golf course promoter for setting up a Professional Golf Association (PGA) standard golf course.

The move had been opposed by a section of the village.

Gaonkar claims that the Goa government’s decision, tabled in the state legislative assembly on April 5, earmarking the golf course project as an “eco tourism project”, showed that the protests had no impact.

“The award-winning story established how government agencies and businessmen plotted to sell out an entire village. Now that the government has gone ahead with the project, the story has not served its stated purpose,” Gaonkar said.

President of the Goa Union of Journalists Pandurang Gaonkar has confirmed receipt of a letter from Gaonkar, returning the award.

Incidentally, this is not the first award to have attracted controversy in recent times.

The Goa Media Awards 2012, organised by GUJ and an event management agency, Saimaa Creations, came under a cloud earlier this year when it was revealed that the award was funded by a leading national public relations agency, politicians and a casino promoting hotel, among others.

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