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) have read with great surprise that the Coastal Regulator has unilaterally decided to postpone the operations of shacks to the 15th of October.
The reasons assigned may or may not have merit. It is too premature to make the decisions that have been made with regard to the beach conditions on account of a prolonged monsoon. As people who have lived on the coasts for generations, we are unable to accept the claims made by the GCZMA and the Department of Water Resources in its totality. There may be some theoretical basis for the claims but there needs to be a reality check as time moves on and to ascertain whether the weather conditions change. Right now, the claims are more anticipatory as far as we understand.
Besides, there is a contradiction here. .If, it is true that the heavy load on the beach from tourists walking on the beach will take its toll on the sand, would it not be proper for the government to discontinue and/or suspend the arrival of the charters. Or, for that matter, would it not be proper to postpone the season and allow tourist arrivals in the coastal hotels after these supposed environmental conditions are met?
Our considered conclusion is there is something questionable here – one standard 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.
We are forced to live in uncertainty. In the first place, there is the threat of having to cope with a lottery system of getting allocated a license. Secondly, we know that for this year our period of our license will be only a single year.
The time to make an assessment as to the sand accretion and beach regeneration can happen according to the way the rains proceed or recede. Not now, and not unilaterally.
We now demand that the government proceeds immediately with the allotment process irrespective of when the shacks are made operational without any further delay. After the allocations, we would like to be made part of the assessment team which checks ground realities and then stipulates a date for the commencement of shack operations. If such allotment were made immediately after the Ganesh Chathurthi, (by the 21st September) as promised by the Chief Minister, it would help us to ready ourselves with the necessary infrastructure.
 The Shack Owners Welfare Society is a group of 350 shack owners who, in accordance with our ancestral rights to the coast and our constitutional right to livelihood, and in order to stimulate the local economy and promote safe and environmentally conscious tourism related practices for the general welfare of the coastal community of the State of Goa.