Shack owners protest again

The government is playing with the livelyhoods of the local people

Frustrated by the long drawn-out delay in finalizing the Beach Shack Policy 2016-19, a group of shack owners protested in front of the Goa tourism department on Monday, demanding the declaration of the policy for temporary beach shacks on identified beach stretches in the state.

After being informed by the tourism department that it was awaiting approval from the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), John Lobo, general secretary of the All Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society alleged that the government was using delaying tactics to benefit businesspeople from outside the state as well as five star hotels.

 “No one is supporting us, not the ministers and not even the defence minister. Dusshera and Diwali have come and gone and there is no sign of the policy. Shame on the government for not helping Goans,” John Lobo told mediapersons, adding, The society had given the government a memorandum in June reminding them to declare the policy on time. Beach shack owners have paid 45,000 for stretch A and 30,000 for stretch B, which are refundable in case they don’t win the lottery. They have also paid the non-refundable application fee including a tax of 10,350 but there has been no progress since. “The government’s policy is not in place and that’s why charters get cancelled and tourists stop coming to the state. I feel panchayats should issue licences instead,” John Lobo added.
Lobo and others complained about the tourism department not returning their security deposit due to them since 2012-13. Other shack owners present threatened to erect shacks on their own. A shack owner from South Goa said the delay in shack policy has resulted in them losing out on the highest spending Russian tourists who visit during the beginning of the tourism season.
Tourism minister Dilip Parulekar has said that the allotment of shacks will be done the day after the GCZMA meets, which is on November 3. Shack owners also met Calangute MLA Michael Lobo and defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday.