Turtles set for a safe haven in Goa


Goa’s first turtle conservation reserve at Galgibaga beach appears to be closer to realisation with Goa coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) granting approval in principle to a provisional management plan for conservation and protection of the turtle nesting site.

The plan has been prepared and submitted by chief scientist, department of science, technology and environment, Joseph S Rauto De Souza, as part of execution of an order by national green tribunal (NGT) and the government’s long term plans to ensure focused turtle conservation at the idyllic beach.

“It is important to preserve some beaches in their pristine conditions for future generations or every stretch will be concretized,” Kishore Paiginkar, a retired senior citizen said.

The otherwise desolate beach, designated as a turtle nesting site along with Agonda under coastal regulations zone notification 2011, was invaded by shacks, huts, tents and other tourism infrastructure during the 2014-15 tourism season. The nesting of Olive Ridley turtles was impacted by the increased activity. This had upset local activists and villagers.

Poinguinkarancho Ekvotta, a local NGO, filed complaints before the NGT to restore peace to the beach and to implement the proposal for a turtle reserve. “NGT had directed GCZMA to prepare the conservation plan within three weeks, in an order dated February 23, 2016,” Ekvott member Paiginkar said.

After a discussion, the GCZMA accepted the turtle reserve proposal recently and it will be presented to NGT.

Galgibaga is considered a suitable location for Olive Ridley turtles to lay their eggs during the November-March nesting season. The beach lies on the mouth of Galgibaga river, isolated from the usual din of tourism. A hill on its north cuts it off from Patnem.

The forest department has acquired 1,55,775 square metres of land for the project. As per CRZ notification, “sand dunes, beach stretches along the bays and creeks shall be surveyed and mapped…”

“The plan suggests some short and long term measures for conservation of the flippered visitors,” an official said.

Turtle conservation in Goa was pioneered in Morjim in the mid-1990s. At the time the beach was desolate and devoid of tourism activity. The threat of unregulated tourism has rendered the place unrecognisable today