16 Mar 2023  |   06:44am IST

The feeling shouldn’t grow that ease of doing business in Goa is proportional to the grease applied to extortionists

The buzz is growing that money talks with real estate and hotel lobbies controlling the system while Goan hoteliers and restaurateurs need to pay to stay in business
The feeling shouldn’t grow that ease of doing business in Goa is proportional to the grease applied to extortionists

The growing number of reports plus testimonies pointing to a recent meeting called by two supposedly politically backed “extortionists” purportedly asking hospitality and nightlife stakeholders to pay underhand, need to be addressed, not only to verify and eradicate such activities at source but to prevent the growing conversation that in Goa and specially in coastal North Goa that the rule of law works only for those who can afford to buy it.

Moreover, if the narrative that those who were fronting the extortion racket had political blessings is true, this is serious.

If any minister blesses the pay and play project, it will be a disaster

If any minister in the government is even remotely supportive or party to the “pay and play” music project, does one realise the disastrous impact this would have on the party and government. Even a rumour that the government is following the High Court directives on noise pollution officially, and giving freedom to extortionists to fleece hoteliers to flout those very laws, is damaging and the government should be proactive in addressing this and giving confidence to Goans that this is not the case. The police saying there is no complaint yet does not inspire that confidence.

There should be no chance for this conversation to grow. And this not only about Goa’s reputation. It’s about trust that Goan hoteliers, shack owners restaurant owners have with the government, if the report about hoteliers being called and asked to pay off extortionists has any basis.

This is wrong on so many counts. Firstly nightlife stakeholders obey the High Court directive of not playing music above certain decibels. At the same time, it should prevail upon the government to make a clear distinction between genuine establishments offering tourists wholesome entertainment and illegal trace & drug party organisers playing such music to increase drug consumption. Genuine nightlife establishments can be given a slight extension to allow them to make ends meet, but if it becomes a money game then the same forces  who bypass the system and  non-chalantly organise not just all night, but three-day long parties outdoors will back with a bang, cocking a snook at the judiciary.

If these allegations of such serious nature are not addressed, then the underlying fears such as police station in charges buying their way into certain police stations and an outsider filthy rich lobby pretty much having proxy control of panchayats, police, mamlatdars and registration offices, will surface again. Is this good for the State?

The government surely realises the potential fallout if this issue is allowed to drift because Goans are discussing allegations of state blessed lawlessness here. The people are watching. It is imperative for the government not to give people the chance to take irreversible calls if they feel genuinely betrayed.

One must understand that hospitality is a core source of earning for many Goans. They invest their life’s savings in setting up a shack or a restaurant. If these sons and daughters of the soil feel chocked, scared and threatened, nothing can be a bigger shame.

Ease of doing business should come naturally and not directly proportional to the grease applied to the powers that be.


Iddhar Udhar