South Goa wallows in a monumental shack mess

Tourism Department’s shack policy is a survival of the fittest test as shack owners struggle to come to terms with the rules
Shacks are still being dressed to start welcoming guests.
Shacks are still being dressed to start welcoming guests.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Cecilia Fernandes at Sernabatim beach in South Goa has bought two 5,000 litre tanks to store the waste from the kitchen and the toilet of her shack. Once they are full, Cecilia does not know what the next step should be.

The shack policy declared by the Department of Tourism, instead of streamlining matters for shack owners, appears to have left many in South Goa confused with the way forward and with no time, the rules can be ignored is the attitude.

New online system of filling application has left Cecilia Fernandes bemused.
New online system of filling application has left Cecilia Fernandes bemused.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“Once the tanks are full, I suppose the government will come and suck the waste out. Since we have been asked to get our licenses online, our problems have only become worse as I cannot operate computers and I am constantly told the connection is bad. Why are we being harassed?” questions 70-plus Cecilia as she leaves the floor to her daughter-in-law Katrina.

Like in the north, most shacks in the south are still being dressed with the basic structure in place but there exists a lot of confusion on the sanitation aspect that actually led to the High Court of Bombay at Goa ordering the closure of shacks in Candolim and Calangute towards the end of last season.

Shacks are still being dressed to start welcoming guests.
It’s Dec and Goa’s beaches still have no shacks

“Where in the policy does it explain how to create infrastructure for toilets or our kitchen? Common sense says that two tanks are needed to be connected to the toilet and kitchen sink and we have gone about doing our job,” admits Altone, who manages the only shack allotted on Arrosim beach.

“We started business a few days back but the flow of customers has not been steady. Our customers are guests of the starred hotel behind, but they have not been regulars,” adds Altone.

With no clarity on waste disposal in the shack policy an indigenous system developed by a shack owner.
With no clarity on waste disposal in the shack policy an indigenous system developed by a shack owner.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

The picture in Sernabatim is different with three shacks being allotted by the Department of Tourism. One is getting ready and not fully operational because the water is yet to be connected; the other is nearing completion and work on the third is yet to begin.

“Had the government given us permission before Diwali, we could have at least got some of the domestic tourists business. There is no one now and with roughly just around a month and a half left for the season, I wonder how we are going to recover,” ponders Katrina.

Water tanks being used as soak pits by many shack owners.
Water tanks being used as soak pits by many shack owners.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

“Hopefully we will be able to make some money during Christmas and New Year and be able to pay salaries to our staff. We have been asked to do so many things in such a short time and it shows how insensitive the government is to us,” says Anthony as he hopes to get his shack up in two days.

As the sun starts to set at Utorda beach, music flows from a shack that makes it stand out from the rest. “We started just yesterday and the other two are yet to start. This is the time to leave everything in God’s hand because we have tried all we can,” says Xavier as he walks towards his shack after serving his Indian guests.

Indian guests prefer to bask in the shade instead of the sun.
Indian guests prefer to bask in the shade instead of the sun.Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Few shacks can be seen up and running at Cavelossim beach but shack owners are not happy with the response received yet. “I opened yesterday but customers have been coming in trickles. I hope my fellow Goans will visit my shack,” says Willy as he sits with a beer along with a friend.

“The problem with Indians is that they do not come to the beach during the day fearing turning black or getting a tan. They prefer to come after sunset whereas foreigners come in the morning and leave in the evening and that’s where we make our bread,” reasons Willy as he gulps his beer.

Shacks are still being dressed to start welcoming guests.
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North or south, the truth is that the Department of Tourism has messed with the lives of Goan shack owners in the manner the shack policy was rolled out. The veterans, according to Cruz Cardozo, President of the Shack Owners Welfare Society, will manage but the first timers will toil.

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