With State Assembly polls round the corner, voters in Goa tourism trade especially on the coastal belt up North are expecting some real solutions to problems plaguing their industry. “The issues here are of basic infrastructure. While state government brags of building bridges and constructing highways across Goa the beach belt of Sinquerim-Candolim-Calangute-Baga upto Morjim and Ashwem up North is congested,” Sadanand Malik, who owns a restaurant in the busy lane of Candolim told PTI.
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The business community in this tourism hotbed is looking forward to quick redressal of their grievances.
Malik says during last five years, some of the issues were settled but much remains to be done.
“The state government set up a garbage treatment plant that takes care of the waste generated in this belt. It is a big respite,” he said referring to the state-of-the-art plant that has been constructed at Saligao treating more than 100 metric tonnes of garbage daily.
“But issues like proper roads, cleanliness on beaches, proper toilets and changing rooms on beaches, prostitution in this area and narcotics trade still remains untouched. They plague tourism industry in a big way,” he said.
Local BJP MLA Michael Lobo had gone on hunger strike in his own constituency three years back to get rid of prostitution and drugs from this place. But few police raids later, the issue skipped media attention and both these things continued to flourish here.
“There are so many things to be done on the infrastructure front here. You can’t change the face of the area overnight when it was neglected for decades,” Lobo said admitting that lot needs to be done here.
While Sinquerim to Baga belt remains to be lucky as far garbage processing is concerned, the treatment of the waste generated on the beaches across the 105 kilometre long coastline still remains an issue.
“There is no waste collection in South Goa’s beaches and shoreline up North Goa. Government needs to work out a solution for that too like the one worked out for Calangute belt,” Cruz Cardoso, President, Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society said.
He said the new government should look at problems faced by shack owners, which are getting worsened with every passing year.
“We need proper tourism policy and a shack policy. Traditional shack owners should be allowed to do business. Many of them were left out in the latest policy,” Cardoso said.
“During 2012 elections, BJP had promised us a 21-year-old long shack policy,” he said.
Beach shacks are integral part of the tourism trade. People who are dependent on tourism in South Goa are worried after the government pushed for Greenfield airport at Mopa.
The contract of constructing Mopa airport has been already given and the first phase would be completed by 2019.
“Tourism stakeholders in South Goa want that existing Dabolim airport should continue. The closure of the airport at Dabolim will spell doom for the trade in South Goa,” Lyndon Monteiro, General Secretary, Goa Vikas Party said.
Monteiro, former Officer on Special Duty to State Tourism minister, said that provision of toilets and changing rooms on beaches is one of the major election issues.
“Those who will provide these facilities will win heart of the voters,” he said.