Work on erecting beach shacks has started, but building the shack is only one of many tasks, as obtaining licenses is the other. Yet, most of those who have been allotted shacks, especially the old timers, expect them to be operational from December 1, 2023.
“We have just got the permission to build the shack but we cannot start business unless we get licenses from GSPCB, GCZMA, the Panchayat and Electricity Department. It is not that simple,” explained Dominic Mascarenhas one of those allotted a shack license.
Shacks were supposed to be operational by October. Unlike crashing waves, the dates kept getting postponed and when everything seemed set, there was a hiccup which was settled by the Chief Minister.
“They wanted us to raise the height of the shacks by two and a half meters and wanted the toilets next to the kitchen. Change of height and location of the toilet would entail additional expenditure of over Rs 10 lakh and hence the protest,” said Mascarenhas.
“The increase in height was never mentioned in the policy and since we are in the habit of having a toilet in the vicinity of the shack, the idea of building one next to the kitchen appeared unhealthy,” he explained as he oversaw his family and workers give structure to bamboos.
As labourers brought material to build shacks, Liz a tourist from England, who has been visiting Goa since 2006, paused to inquire about the delay and after a brief interlude, smiled.
“It is strange to know that every time there is a change in government, there is a change in shack policy. It really sounds funny that shacks need a policy that needs change,” says Liz as she sipped from her water bottle.
“A lot of us old timers from England have decided to come back and many more are expected to run away from the cold as gas for our heaters is very expensive and living (in England) has become unaffordable,” lamented Liz.
If living in England is expensive, holidaying in Goa is not smooth sailing. “The rent for the apartment I am staying in has doubled though the amenities available haven’t and food has become costly too,” said Liz sheepishly. “The only thing that is cheap, and it is dangerous, is alcohol,” she added.
Laxman, another individual who has been allotted a shack licence, and his colleagues are joined by 70-year old Dave from England, their customer for many years, who has returned after long. “Unlike the Europeans, we get a 180-day visa so it’s cool. I am not fussy about the food and beer in Goa is good,” he said as he draws his link to the place.
“We should get the shack up in three or four days but the real work will start when we have to procure the licenses to get the shack operational. I don’t expect harassment,” shared Laxman.
But not all those who have been allotted licences are on the same wave length of Dominic and Laxman. “I am waiting for sand to level my area. Once the structure comes up, I will start operations by selling the bare minimum and gradually build the rest,” admits an allottee whose identity is being withheld.
“I normally come to the beach in the morning and have my lunch in a shack and at times hang on till evening. Goa is cheap compared to Europe and the Goan vibe is good. Until the shacks are ready, I cook in the apartment,” explains Suzy as she pampers herself with sun tan on a deck bed.
The deck beds are out. Indian masseurs can be seen and the presence of tourist police can be seen fleetingly, as locals can be seen carrying crates of beer towards the beach.
“It is better to be sitting on the beach here and moaning about how expensive things are than sitting in the cold in England and moaning about not being able to afford the gas to keep the cold out,” says Liz as she passes a beer to her colleague.
The English are back, says the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sita and as it gets colder in Europe, more are expected though he believes that the English have found better havens in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries where the vibes could be better.
It’s money prompting the talk again.