Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS)
(An affiliate of Centre for Responsible Tourism, Caritas-Goa and the Council for Social Justice and Peace)
Institute Piedade, Opposite Captain of Ports, Panjim
Tel: 9823018901, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the September 14 issue of “Herald” we, the Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS) it was reported that the Coastal Regulator had decided to postpone the operations of shacks to the 15th of October.
The Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS) responded to that press release through a memorandum to the Chief Minister. We were, therefore, surprised by your mail of 21st September refusing us an appointment and denying the contents of the press release which reported GCZMA decisions.
SOWS members unanimously disagree with the assessment of the GCZMA suggesting that the heavy load from tourists walking on the beach will take its toll on the sand. We, therefore, called on government to postpone the tourist season and allow tourist arrivals in the coastal hotels after these supposed environmental conditions are met. The fact that hotels are allowed to operate while shack owners must wait is questionable. GCZMA is adopting double standards – one for the hotels and resorts and another for us the shack owners. Truly, we are afraid that the government is favouring the big businesses and ignoring the local rights holders.
What is most disturbing is that we as the rights holders in tourism – shack owners who are traditional inhabitants of the coastal areas- have not even been consulted. We have lived long enough on the coast to be included in a participatory decision making process.
At this very point in time the monsoon has slowed – almost to the point of ceasing. The time to make an assessment as to the sand accretion and beach regeneration should have been done according to the way the rains proceed or recede. Not the way it was done unilaterally.
We now insist the following steps be taken to rectify the unfair decisions made by GCZMA:
- Engage in a dialogue with the shack owners immediately to listen to their concerns and proposals.
- Appoint a group from GCZMA and shack owners to make an assessment of beach conditions and then proceed to make relevant decisions.
- Revisit the 2011 decision to prohibit shacks from being operated in Palolem.
- Grant us an official copy of the minutes of the meeting with recommendations of the GCZMA held on 12-09-2012; to discuss the matters pertaining to the Beach Shack Policy 2012-13 of the Department of Tourism, which you say has been forwarded to the Department concerned.
It is important that you are aware that the Shack Owners Welfare Society operates on the basis of a policy that has been whetted through environmentalists, economists, and our own members. In recent weeks, we have trained ourselves in matters of social responsibility through a course for all shack owners. We have developed plans for proper waste management which includes segregation at source, and disposal in safe and hygienic conditions. We have hired a firm that will collect our wastes on a beach-to-beach basis and handle their disposal in an environmentally friendly manner. Shack Owners have been trained in the above and have pledged to train our workers too.
At this point in time, we are asking that our licenses be issued for a period of 10 years at a minimum. If this is approved, all shack owners will invest heavily on environmentally friendly materials to build shacks, and all related equipment such as cement toilets etc. Do keep in mind that we as original coastal inhabitants have a love for our land and the ocean and so do not need to be reminded of our responsibilities. This is information to be directed to big businesses that come to the coasts with one single aim- profit.
We as shack owners are aware of the various sources to which we must appear for licensing. The GCZMA is also a stakeholder. Your attempt to push us on to the Tourism department (what you call the Nodal body) for all matters pertaining to shacks is unacceptable to us. While the government is announcing single window clearances for large industry, we find ourselves being pushed from pillar to post every year to gain our minimum and just demands.
We urge an immediate meeting between you and our representatives in a manner of constructive engagement.
23 September 2012