“The Sea Food festival will take place as and when scheduled, and the demolition at Vagator will happen on January 27, 2024. We cannot allow misutilisation of our beaches if we want them to be enjoyed,” stated a source from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
At a time when locals are upset with unruly activities by Indian tourists, members in the CMO and the Tourism Department believe that tourism in Goa centres around its shoreline and the emphasis is to get the most from its beaches without disturbing its ecology.
“There is an order passed by the High Court, and we are also aware that a lot has changed since the High Court order was passed in 1999," explained a member from the office of the Tourism Minister.
"Back then, there was no systematic and scientific cleaning of garbage and most probably no parking plans. Times have changed,” he added.
“The Goa Seafood Festival will be held from February 9 to 11 at Miramar beach, and before that, the illegal structure ordered to be demolished by the High Court of Bombay at Goa will meet its fate,” confidently assured the source in the CMO.
Goa is sold as a beach destination, and that is why shacks are allowed along with weddings with rules and regulations appended, which according to sources in the Department of Tourism, were not in place in 1999.
“We have to go forward. We are in the 21st century, and with all the wherewithal at the disposal of the department, do you think a three-day festival will ruin the beach?” asked an amused secretary.
“I have the highest regard for the judgement of the bench of the High Court of Bombay at Goa and the illegal encroachment will be demolished on January 27, 2024,” said Suneel Anchipaka, Director of Tourism.
“But, to get that done, I need the machinery and staff in place, which I could not have,” clarified Anchipaka, who is in receipt of, ‘a show cause as to why action under Contempt of Court Act, 1971 should not be initiated’.
“To demolish an illegal structure on the beach, we need to organise a JCB and staff. There have been so many activities in the past few days that it was impossible. But, the demolition was always in focus and bound to happen,” he disclosed.
Anchipaka, apart from being issued a show-cause notice for not adhering to the demolition order, finds the department being threatened with Contempt of Court proceedings by a former Panjim Councillor for ignoring the affidavit filed by a former Director of Tourism in 1999.
“I never said anything that has been reported in a particular section of the press, and do not want to get involved. The government will issue a detailed press note in that regard,” stated Anchipaka.
“We know that the state has been getting negative publicity because of tourists from the country, but that is a part of growth that we will ease off once we put the right mechanisms in place,” said a source within the CMO.
“Staff at the Tourism department are observing, studying, and in due time will put systems in place that will send a strong message to all who think that locals can be ignored,” concluded the source.