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04 Feb 2018 04:56am IST

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04 Feb 2018 04:56am IST

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Police have taken some action, but many feel it is too little too late, that too when the season is on the wane. The government too is taking steps in this direction, with the Chief Secretary confirming the move to set up a special Committee, on lines with the State Level Permission Committee that decides permission for EDM festivals. VIBHA VERMA unravels more

The highly-anticipated multi-genre GOAT festival faced closure minutes before the launch of its second edition, scheduled to happen on the shores of Ashwem beach, last weekend. The visitors to the festival who coughed up huge amount as entry fees were left high and dry on realising there was no party without government clearances. 

Not long ago, just before the onset of the tourist season, two club houses faced the wrath of the police when Curlies owner Edwin Nunes and operator of Nyex Club Rohan Shetty were arrested in connection with the narcotics trade, after a waiter and patron were found in possession of drugs on the establishment premises, respectively. 

These cases triggered an alarm, considering that despite crackdowns, suspicious and illegal parties still find space in the coastal belt. Nevertheless, a number of parties in the recent past were denied permission for failing to comply with certain directives of the government. 

The mushrooming of such dusk-to-dawn music-dance festivals have prompted Goa government to set up a special Committee, on lines with the State Level Permission Committee (SLPC) that decides permission for the annual Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals in Goa. 

Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma, when contacted by Herald, confirmed that government has proposed this move.

It is reliably learnt that the committee that will have a cluster of related government agencies and probably stakeholders too on a common platform, is presently under examination with Tourism Secretary, to be further processed to the higher level for a final nod. 

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, along with MLAs who area vocal about ending illegal and drug-laced parties, have often expressed a strong will to curb narcotics and other illegalities linked with illegal music and dance parties.

Going back to August 2017 just before the two party houses in the northern coast came under the scanner, the death of two young tourists at separate parties in Anjuna shook the administration, as it exposed authorities’ laxity to crackdown on drug-laced parties and to act against illegal parties in the coastal belt. 

The suspected drug overdose deaths of the Kerala and Tamil Nadu youth revealed a series of violations by organisers of the late night parties, with a majority allegedly linked to drug trade. Herald’s probe soon after the incident revealed that during that period, three out of the six parties held in different parts of Anjuna did not have the mandatory sound permission despite which the organisers – fearless of penal action – went ahead hosting the large scale parties, throwing all rules and regulations to the wind.  

It was then that Goa government decided to crack a whip at all unauthorised and suspected drug-laced parties.   

Anjuna Sarpanch Savio Almeida claimed late night parties are no problem, provided it does not disturb the peace of the residents and are free of drugs. “There is no issue with parties that have obtained permissions but as long as they don’t disturb the people living around. People need good sleep at night… There are many instances wherein music is loud despite repeated complaints. Action should be taken against them. Anyone denying rave parties is lying. Everyone knows the reality but unfortunately police are not able to do justice because of (political) pressure. They are being suppressed. Let the department carry out its job without any interference,” he stressed.

On the government’s intention to set up a special committee, he demanded to include local panchayats on board as ‘panchayats know the ground reality.’

His views were seconded by anti-noise pollution activist Prasad Shahapurkar, who has led various movements demanding a shutdown of illegal music-dance parties. 

“At least in Pernem taluka, the first half of ongoing tourist season saw controlled late night parties, although none can deny a few parties were held. There have been venues falling in CRZ areas…Police do take action but they don’t register FIRs. This encourages organizers of illegal parties to repeat their shows because ultimately, they will be let off with a warning or by the time any raid is carried out party would be almost over,” he alleged, while suggesting that the law enforcing agencies should act sternly against individuals and events that portrays Goa is a haven for illegal activities. 
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