‘Israeli holidayers in Goa have no drug problem’

Panaji, Dec 10 (IANS) Israel’s ambassador to India Daniel Carmon has rejected allegations that many young Israeli tourists holidaying in Goa have been creating hostile enclaves and dealing in drugs.

“I do not believe that there is a drug problem in the Goa. Israeli tourists have been told in no uncertain terms that they as tourists and even diplomats are guests in India and should respect the laws of the land,” Carmon told reporters on Wednesday upon being asked about the allegations that have been frequently made.

“The theory about Israelis living in enclaves is not credible as nearly 40,000 Israeli tourist visit India annually and a majority of them pass through Goa, yet there are only four Israelis in Goan prisons,” he said.

Since the mid-1980s, beaches in north Goa like Anjuna, Ozrant, Vagator, Chapora, Arambol have been the well known haunts of young Israelis holidaying in India after completing their compulsory stint in their country’s armed forces.

Carmon, whose visit to the state included an interaction with the state’s environment and forests minister Rajendra Arlekar, also called for collaboration between Israel and Goa in areas of eco-tourism, dairy and farm sector.

“In Israel, we have the expertise of marrying the concepts of environment and development and eco-tourism is related to it. We are prepared to extend this expertise to Goa,” Carmon said.

He said Israel had already been working with the central government in developing centres of excellence in agriculture, having finalised 26 such centres in 10 Indian states and made operational 14 of them.

“For now Goa is not in the list of 26, but we are in talks to create a centre of excellence in Goa too. We are awaiting the Goa government for a final decision on this,” Carmon said.

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