A New Year is here and with it comes another round of parties on the beach, especially on Calangute and Baga beaches. Unfortunately, along with these come the violations of the beach shack policy given by the tourism authorities.
The violations on Calangute beach in particular
Picture this. It’s sunset on the Calangute-Baga beach stretch. Shack owners/operators have put up foldable fluorescent tents in front of their shacks. The shack owners want to provide a private dining experience for visitors to these beaches. There is one major problem here, though. These little tents? They’re completely illegal. Increasingly emboldened by the fact that violations are being overlooked by the authorities, beach shack operators along this stretch busily violate conditions laid down by the beach shack policy. While these tents are currently only along this stretch, observers say that others might copy it as well.
“Some charge extra, some don’t,” said a resident of Baga. He explained how having a tent offers the possibility of more business. “Tourists celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special occasions opt for these.”
Another resident told the newspapers about one particular private shack operator who has hired a shack in front of this person’s just to utilize the space to install a ramp and tents. The ramp is supposed to double up as a dancefloor. “He continues to use the beach space, and nobody has stopped him,” he said.
The president of the Shack Owners Welfare Society, Mr Cruz Cardozo mentioned that he wasn’t aware of these violations and seemed to be quite shocked.
He did also add that there were limits to what the SOWS could do. He said that thanks to a few rogue shack operators, the genuine ones were paying the price.
Cracking down on these violations
Each year, the tourism department and the Goa Coastal Zone Management authority (GZCMA), demarcate areas for each operator for setting up a shack along with the number of deck beds allowed. This is a limited number, based on the space available. Thus, the policy mandates that allottees should not expand their activities beyond the area earmarked. Apart from tables and chairs, shacks now install tents and other illumination.
Tourism minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar said he would have those tents removed. “We will have them removed, but it is also the responsibility of the respective coastal MLA to ensure that such things don’t happen in his constituency,” he said.
Antonio Mascarenhas, a former member of the GCZMA, said that these violations happen more and more each year. And as such, impact the ‘beach ecology’ in a bad way.
During the monsoons, Mascarenhas Goa’s coastline is directly hit by heavy winds, and when it coincides with the high tide line, it induces consequent high waves and water overshoots the beach. “It is very important that sand dunes are protected,” he said. “The natural rejuvenation of the beach happens between September and March.”
It is critical that the beach is higher than the water level. Otherwise, it results in major sand erosion as it happened with last month’s supermoon. But we cannot blame the supermoon entirely. As he says, “We are to blame for the human interference on the beach.”
Mascarenhas, a former NIO scientist, said that he had opposed excess human activities like the EDM festivals which interfere with the eco-system of the beach. He also said that the GCZMA’s suggestion to the government to naturally nourish beaches by depositing sand that’s eroded was never taken seriously.
When will we learn?
Clearly, it’s not enough that the state is still dealing with the throng of tourists that not only use Goa as a camping ground but also as a toilet in the last few weeks. Now there are these violations on the beach as well. When will Goa go back to having quality tourism? Not anytime soon, I imagine.
Information credit – TOI article