The Sunburn Festival is in December, but the fun of push and shove begins now with the organisers trying to distract gaunkars from the Comunidade of Anjuna with claims that have no bearings.
The distraction has begun this year through social media with the claim that the festival is going to be held near the Mopa international airport in Pernem. It cannot, because Mopa is not Vagator.
Sunburn Festival is nowhere close to Glastonbury in the UK, and therefore the idea of holding it anywhere other than Goa or Vagator is farfetched. Whether we are ready to accept it or not, the festival, like the place where it has been held so far, is linked to substances injurious to health.
The festival in Goa has been mired in controversy since the beginning, not just because of the drugs, but the manner in which the organisers have been going about trying to get permission from the landowners to host the festival.
Sunburn Festival has been held on the Anjuna Comunidade land for the last many years. To obtain this land, they need to pay a fee to the gaunkars of the comunidade – a fee stipulated by the general body of the Anjuna Comunidade.
The Code of the Comunidades clearly stipulates that once the application for the use of land is made to a comunidade, an extraordinary general body meeting of the comunidade needs to be called to discuss the fees to be charged for the use of the land.
The general body of the Anjuna Comunidade met last year and decided to impose a fee of Rs 75 lakhs on the organisers of Sunburn, considering the area required and the number of days.
Like Sunburn, other entities have used land belonging to the Anjuna Comunidade for other festivals. In many cases, the price quoted for the use of land was respected. The same was not the case with the Sunburn Festival and the Royal Enfield Rider Mania.
The organisers of both events, in connivance with the administrator of the North Goa comunidades, got the prices for the use of land reduced. Thus, taking the battle to the doors of the High Court of Bombay at Goa.
The role of the administrator of comunidades is titular because, in the comunidade framework, the gaunkar is supreme. An administrator is a link that ties the knot.
The administrator of North Goa decided to tweak the fees stipulated by the gaunkars in their extraordinary general body meeting for the Sunburn Festival and the Royal Enfield Rider Mania, compelling the gaunkars to approach the high court. The matter is expected to be disposed of any day soon.
From the material at hand and meetings with many gaunkars of Anjuna, it is now clear that the gaunkars want their role and decisions to be respected by whoever wants to use their land because the money pooled in by such rent is at the end of the year equally divided among all of them.
Unfortunately, gaunkars of most comunidades have not been able to stand together to preserve what it means to be a gaunkar, and in short, it is “sharing is caring”. Comunidades are about being benevolent towards the less privileged.
Through the years, the organisers wanting to use comunidade land have used unscrupulous methods in gaining permission to utilise this land. Bribes have been paid – and that includes members of managing committees of comunidades too – to undermine the dues of gaunkars. This is why matters end up in court.
The Sunburn Festival had to first pay their dues to the government by an order of the Bombay High Court at Goa, but that has not stopped organisers from trying to circumvent the gaunkars of the Comunidade of Anjuna by trying to please a few.
The matter is quite clear: pay the gaunkars of Anjuna Comunidade the fee that is decided upon by the general body and stop satisfying a few people who have little say (members of the managing committee of comunidades and government officials) and get the show going.
The land belongs to gaunkars, which, in other words, signifies a community. And, Sunburn and other organisers vying to use such land will do well to understand the will of the majority instead of the minority.