The judgement of the High Court of Bombay at Goa in favour of the gauncars of Anjuna Comunidade has rattled not just the organisers of Sunburn, but also the Government of Goa that appears to be attempting to ease the path for the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) hosts.
This time too, the gauncars of Anjuna appear ready for another battle, with better resources, and willing to strike the iron when it is hot to prove their community rights.
A letter sent by the Collector of North Goa to the Administrator of Comunidades, North Zone, and which was forwarded to Anjuna Comunidade, indicates that efforts are being made to seize the land belonging to the latter for the establishment of EDM and other tourism activities.
A note prepared on August 8, 2023, by the planning section of the Department of Tourism and titled, proposal for transfer of land to Department of Tourism from Revenue Department for creation of Permanent Venue for Events, states:
“In order to promote Goa for organising events throughout the year, own permanent venue is required. As such the property bearing survey No 206/1, Anjuna Comunidade, Ozran, at Anjuna, is identified for setting up permanent event venue.”
The organisers of Sunburn, it may be noted, approached the Supreme Court through a Special Leave to appeal wherein one subject matter of the order read:
“We make it clear that as the issue of power of the government to reduce the amount demanded by the Comunidade is subject matter of this petition, the State government will not reduce the said amount.”
The general body of the Comunidade of Anjuna had charged Rs 51 per square metre for the use of 30,000 square meters of their land.
That the organisers of Sunburn have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the writ of the general body of the Comunidade has irked most gauncars of Anjuna and the government attempt to take their land on lease, to help people against whom they won, has left many fuming.
“We approached the High Court to stop the organisers from trying to bribe our own managing committee members and succeeded, it was not to stop their show. Now it appears that the government wants to the wear the cap,” stated a gauncar of Anjuna who was privy to a high-level meeting held in a starred hotel on Thursday evening.
The gauncars of Anjuna are not against the Sunburn festival but loathe the manner “the organisers prefer to bribe instead of legally settling the dues of the Comunidade”.
“The General Body has determined a fixed rate and all the organisers need to do is pay it. Instead, they have gone to the Supreme Court and after receiving an unfavourable order are now trying to use the government machinery and our government is bending over to them,” reacted a gauncar.
Playing with social media to propagate fake news, there were efforts to lead many to believe that Sunburn was being held at other places in Goa – Old Goa and Mopa – when in reality they had already applied to the Comunidade of Anjuna for space (See report dated August 28,2023).
After jumping from Old Goa to Mopa as probable venues, social media sites were used to hoodwink the Goan people on the order of the Supreme Court on Special Leave to appeal No 24359/2023.
The involvement of the Goa government and the Tourism Department, in particular, has exposed the desperation in trying to crush the old community system of living prevalent in Goa.
Sunburn first came to Goa and was later shunted out. It has returned after being allowed and is now trying to curb an indigenous system of sharing – still employed by some gauncars – that is a source of happiness.