A few days back, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant made a strong pitch for reviving the long-pending marina project in the state. His statement bodes well for Goa's tourism, considering the fact that the tottering industry is now looking at attracting high-end tourists.
Sawant's statement has come at a time when Karnataka and Maharashtra are making big plans to set up marinas to bolster their tourism potential.
The CM definitely doesn't want his neighbours to have the whole marina pie and wants some of it for Goa.
The CM's statement is a clear signal to those opposing the marina that from now on protests will not be taken lying down, and the project is an inevitable part of attracting high-end tourists which Goa so badly needs.
While Karnataka is planning to come up with the country's first marina in Udupi, Mumbai may see a state-of-the-art marina that will cater to international yachts and the ones based locally.
In April, this year, the Goa Tourism Department held a roadshow in Frankfurt, Germany, with the objective of bringing Europe to Goa and promoting the state as a preferred destination for travellers across Europe and worldwide.
The objective sounds good, but what does the state have in the first place to woo rich Europeans? Besides its beaches, which are gradually being sullied by cheap domestic tourists that pour into the state every weekend just to drink, there is nothing else worth offering.
If a wealthy European decides to get his yacht to Goa, where does he get to dock his expensive boat? The visitor will certainly look for a decent marina or a yachting facility, and the state has none.
If Goa is to move with the times, then the most it can do is, without much ado, give free and peaceful passage to the construction of the marina at Nauxim, a fishing village which has not seen the benefits of development percolate down to it.
Mumbai-based Kargwal Constructions Private Limited, which is charged with the project, has promised jobs to the youth of Nauxim. If that's the case, the leaders and elders have to ensure this job promise is fulfilled at all costs. But this can be tackled later. First, let the marina come up.
Now, the question is – are the fishermen really opposing the project or have they been misled into believing there is nothing in it for them? If the fishermen have their objections and suggestions, they should bring these to the public hearing, which is now the next step.
The public hearing, which was earlier postponed several times for one reason or the other, is basically to discuss the environmental impact of the project in the area.
The MPA has clearly said the Nauxim project is a working facility for yachting purposes and there will be no infrastructure development for that part.
So, if there is no infrastructure development, where is the question of an environmental impact? Now the fishermen's concern is a hindrance to fishing and depletion of fish caught in the area. This is one area where the fishermen need to be guided and not misled by those ill-informed.
Breakwaters, which are created to protect marinas from waves and storm surges, are good breeding grounds for different varieties of fish. In Nauxim, such a breakwater will help increase the fish population in the area, which in turn will be good for the local fishermen.
It is a well-known fact that fish prefer calm waters to lay their eggs, and the area inside the marina is calm because of the breakwater.
In 2022, surprisingly a whale shark was sighted in the Dubai Marina, the reason being clear water and the availability of abundant plankton food.
Now, when the fishermen talk of hindrance, it is to be noted that the project will be set up in an area roughly 300 metres x 350 metres, leaving ample space for fishing in and around the area. Also, 80 per cent of the marina area will have a floating pontoon under which small fish breed.
The project will create 300 jobs, which constitutes direct employment. First preference will be given to locals. Besides, retired Goan seafarers will also be able to get employment across various disciplines.
Within the marina, a skilling centre will train youth to work on the 270 yachts. The marina will have the capacity to dock around 270 yachts.
Around the world, several countries have witnessed the economic benefits of marinas. India with more than 7,000 kilometres of coastline has enough potential to attract these benefits.
Other states have already realised the importance of marinas. Now, the question is will it be smooth sailing for the marina project in Goa? Only time will tell.