Herald: Kerala shadow looms large over tourism season
Herald News

Kerala shadow looms large over tourism season

31 Aug 2018 05:46am IST

Report by
VIBHA VERMA

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31 Aug 2018 05:46am IST

Report by
VIBHA VERMA

Experts, stakeholders urge authorities to check for violations by shack operators after licences have been granted

PANJIM: With unabated violations of the beach shack policy rampant along the tourism belt, environmentalists, ahead of the upcoming tourist season, fear a Kerala flood-like situation if the abuse of nature continues.

With the government determined to issue licences to beach shack operators by September 15 – a fortnight before the onset of the season – experts and stakeholders urge the authorities to watch for violations, particularly after licences have been granted.

“Violations are reported after shack licences are granted. Large sections of shack operators promise not to encroach into vegetation, sand dunes or come closer to the beach at the time of allocation of the area but, they resort to blatant violation thereafter. Uprooting of the vegetation, damage to the sand dunes, etc is become a routine every year. The entire eco-system is disturbed,” retired NIO scientist Antonio 

Mascarenhas said. 

Noted environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar shared a similar opinion citing the Kerala floods. “The government should ensure that environment is not impacted because the manner in which beachside activities are being held, is without understanding nature. This is the reason why shacks or any structure along the beach become victims of nature’s fury. If we don’t understand the changes around us then we have to face the loss and havoc,” he said warning, “The Kerala model was termed the best but it proved to be a total failure. Similarly, if we allow shacks in eco-sensitive areas then get ready to face the challenges of the nature.”

Early this year a large number of shack operators suffered damage leading to losses running into several lakhs of rupees due to the rising water levels from the effect of the Ockhi cyclone. The partial destruction of the beach shacks brought to the fore Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations by some shack operators who later blamed the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) for not allocating shacks above the high tide line.

Mascarenhas has strongly recommended allocation of shacks on ‘dry beach’ with a setback of 3 metres in its rear wherein no sand dunes and/or vegetations are touched upon. Likewise, Kerkar too opined banning activity in eco -ensitive areas. 

One of the biggest tourism stakeholders Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has also backed regulated operations of the temporary structures with its president, Savio Messias, seeking scientific demarcation. “The location should be earmarked scientifically and keeping in mind the rules and regulations of the GCZMA and the Tourism Department. The government should also check that there are no violations after licences are granted to shack operators and that business is carried out from the designated areas only,” he stated. 

Conceding that some shack operators do violate the policy, Goa Traditional Shack Owners Association president Cruz Cardozo said it is for the authorities to keep vigil. “We have to and are ready to cooperate with the authorities,” he said. On the controversy over the allocation of shacks close to the beaches, he said the decision lies upon GCZMA and the Tourism Department. “Wherever it is possible! The allocation is as per GCZMA and Tourism Department. If nature reacts nobody can help, just as in the case of Kerala. Except for Cylone Ockhi we had no problem in the last many years,” he said, indicating that the shack operators would not mind continuing operating from the restricted zone.

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