The move to set up small-capacity sewerage treatment plants along Goa’s beach belt to take care of the sewage generated by seasonal shacks appears good, but just how good will be established by its effectiveness.
This decision, which in the days to come will take shape, goes on to prove that for years the government was aware that some shacks, if not all, were releasing dirty and smelly water into the sand and thus inconveniencing beachgoers.
The Shack Owners Welfare Society has hailed the move of the Goa environment minister and is keen to know more about the plan to set up the STPs, but wants this to be done fast so that operators can run their businesses smoothly for the remaining part of the season.
The shack owners are not too happy about the delay in demarcation of the shacks which is set to begin today (November 15, 2023). They have already lost more than 30 days of business as the tourism season has officially begun.
While sewage from shacks on the Candolim and Calangute beach belt is pumped out by soil tankers, at other locations bio-toilets and alternative arrangements are in place to take care of dirty water that is generated.
While the proposed STPs will help take care of the sewage, the bigger problems of cleanliness and stray cattle on Goa’s beaches, claimed to be world-class, are some of the sore points the government will need to address by involving shack owners and operators
The festering plastic menace on our beaches, especially at the entry points and the parking lots which are sullied by garbage of all kinds, is another issue that needs to be tackled to send a clean Goa message to tourists.
If the garbage issue is not enough, the authorities have to spare some thought to the stray cattle menace and hawkers on the beaches. Despite several assurances, there has been no permanent solution to this festering problem.
It is very disheartening to see our beaches – on which at one time one could walk without having to worry about the crowds, garbage and stray cattle – losing their charm. Now, social media posts are advising tourists which beaches to avoid in Goa. They are bracketed into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Where does this take our tourism?
If the government wants people to come here for its beach tourism, it will have to put in place a proper and foolproof beach management plan to ensure these places maintain a certain cleanliness standard to attract tourists.
The plan’s main agenda should, at all costs, ensure that coastal recreation activities are carried out without any harm to the beach ecosystem.
In Goa, if beach tourism has to survive there has to be a selfless synergy between local residents, shack operators, hotel owners and managers and the tourism department. This, however, may seem wishful because some of these stakeholders work at cross purposes with each other over business.
The tide of plastic on our beaches will take away the livelihood of those connected to tourism. It’s better for the stakeholders to realise this and take proactive measures to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Clean beaches will get more attention and the dirty ones will be left out of tourism reckoning, so it’s time to take the broom and not wait till the waste becomes overwhelming to the point of no return.
Goa’s beaches found fame through the hippies in the 1960s and ’70s and that fame went far and wide bringing tourists from all over the world to experience the golden shores. It’s time for a real cleanup, once and for all.