Hot, humid and discomforting May is here, and soon Goa will witness pre-monsoon showers, alleviating the heat and giving people some respite until the monsoon starts with gusto somewhere in June.
May is also a great time for the outdoors, when people make their way to beaches and other water bodies to cool off. Sadly, this is also the time when unruly picnickers leave their waste footprints behind in abundance.
Every year, popular picnic spots are found inundated with waste, a sad testimony to our skewed sense of social responsibility. It is very disheartening to see these spots littered with plastic and glass bottles, paper plates, plastic cups, broken bottles and, in some places, even baby diapers.
We take pride in calling ourselves niz Goemkars (die-hard Goans), while at the same time give an account of ourselves contrary to this saying when we irresponsibly leave our trash behind
Our picnics come with a price because all the waste left behind on the beaches finds its way into the sea. This waste takes a toll on marine life. Not for a single minute, a thought is given to what happens to the litter left behind.
Picnics help us experience the outdoors, de-stress and forget the daily mundane chores, but a little effort can go a long way in ensuring that our fun doesn't result in our beautiful picnic spots turning into waste landfills.
The biggest challenge when it comes to picnic garbage is paper cups and plates, and plastic and glass bottles. This is where picnickers can make a difference by getting their own dishes and glasses from home. Is this too much to ask for?
Now many would argue that the panchayat should be well-equipped to handle waste, but the duty of keeping the beaches clean is the responsibility of the Tourism Department. Individuals too have a big role to play in making certain that they do not litter.
On the Cabo de Rama coastline, especially the hidden beach of Kakolem, one can find several Goan families picnicking in May. The weekends are choked with picnickers, mostly Goans, and the end result -- litter.
One can see the picnic litter collected and stacked at a place before the entrance to the beach. The worst part is some of the waste that lies uncollected on the beach is swept into the seawater with the incoming tide. The litter story of Kakolem is seen on most beaches.
A survey conducted in 2022 had thrown light on the quantum of waste on some of the most-visited beaches in Goa such as Miramar, Caranzalem, Velsao, Colva and Siridao, Calangute, Baina and Colva.
There is no doubt that tourists who indulge in partying and drinking on the beaches are to a large extent responsible for creating this mess of garbage. However, Goans can't be absolved of irresponsible behaviour completely.
The mess is not restricted to the beaches alone. Picnickers, especially Goemkars , who find it hard to dispose of their garbage on the beaches, conveniently throw it on the internal village roads while returning home in the evening.
In January, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that garbage management was marred by corruption and blamed the local governing bodies for not utilising the funds allotted to the panchayats for waste management.
If the government is serious about cleanliness on its beaches, then it requires to constitute a special task force that will ensure picnic spots are kept free of litter. Those found littering have to be penalised to show that rules of cleanliness and civic duty have to be followed.
In the end, one must realise that garbage on our streets and beaches sadly reflects on the quality of the state's tourism, and waste is certainly not what people come to see in Goa.
One would say littering is certainly not how Goans party, but that's sadly changing now.