In the past two decades, as the world has become ever more globalised and the international middle class has gotten richer, casino tourism has become increasingly popular. Casino tourism is a form of high-end tourism whereby people travel far and wide to visit casinos all over the world.
Bicholim: Calling village panchayats the prime centres of rural development, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said that his government’s aim is to strengthen them.Sawant was speaking to reporters after casting his vote at the Kothambi -Pale poll booth in Bicholim taluka.He said that there is also need to boost tourism in the state and hence, panchayat bodies should provide whole-hearted cooperation.Sawant said that so far, the state government has provided necessary financial assistance to panchayat bodies for development works and that the same will continue in future too. Further, he said that the government is also undertaking different initiatives to boost rural tourism, small scale business and domestic business in the state.
PANAJI: Animal safaris will be provided in Goa on the lines of such safaris offered at Kevadia, Gujarat, forest minister Vishwajit Rane said on Tuesday. Rane said that he has already discussed the plan with the Union minister. The state is looking at working on the project in collaboration with the central government, he said. "Following in the footsteps of an animal safari developed in Kevadia, we sought advice from the Union minister to work closely with the ministry in the development of a state-of-the-art animal safari in Goa," Rane said. Rane met Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Bhupendra Yadav. During the meeting, a development plan for Bondla zoo was also discussed. The zoo will be upgraded to showcase fauna found in the Western Ghats, Rane said. "We also discussed the Bondla Zoological Park's integrated and holistic development to showcase the diverse fauna of the Western Ghats and other regions in a naturalistic setting. A master plan, including such proposals, has already been submitted to Central Zoo Authority," said Rane. The minister said that a proposal for maintenance of Goa's grasslands is also on the cards. "I discussed various proposals, viz, integrated development of wildlife habitat under which we have sought approval for maintenance of grasslands, enrichment plantation with fruit-bearing trees, creation and maintenance of forest roads, nature camping facility in protected areas, etc," the minister said. He said that the proposals discussed also included creation of artificial watering holes in protected areas of Goa using solar pumps and nature guide training programmes and capacity building of local youth for eco-tourism activities.
Panaji: The state forest department has embarked on an ambitious 10-year roadmap to turn Goa’s forests — part of the internationally-recognised Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot — into a safari destination.From luxury tents and wildlife trips to deep sea expeditions and turtle nesting tours, the forest department has come up with several strategies to unlock the state’s rich wildlife sanctuaries and biodiversity for locals and tourists. “I want to develop safaris,” said forest minister Vishwajit Rane. “You cannot have animals in a cage for this. You need to have an ecosystem, and this is not a one or two year work. It has to start now, and over the next ten years, you may start seeing some results.” Outlining his plan after chairing a meeting with the department, Rane said that priority areas have been identified where eco-tourism activities will be set up — Cotigao, Galgibaga, Netravali, Molcornem, Surla and Chorla.The state has three wildlife sanctuaries, but most of these remain inaccessible and out of bounds for wildlife lovers. The state also has four turtle conservation and nesting sites at Morjim and Mandrem in Pernem, and Agonda and Galgibaga in Canacona. Rane aims to increase these, while also introducing guided tours for students and tourists. Also being considered is a 120km walking trail linking the Cotigao wildlife sanctuary, the forests of Netravali, Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary, and the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary upto Chorla ghat. Along with this, facilities for recreational vehicles or camper vans and luxury tent camping sites at Surla and Nanoda are also being discussed, said Rane, who is interested in wildlife photography.The state government has roped in former principal conservator of forests Vinay Luthra as advisor. Rane met Luthra, Goa’s principal chief conservator of forests Rajiv Kumar Gupta, and additional principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden Santosh Kumar, to prepare the roadmap. “We have taken Luthra on as an advisor to the minister for forests, and at the same time, he will have a role to play in the GFDC to see how we can increase activities in the wildlife sanctuaries. At the same time, in Goa, we will come up with a forest development and forest management plan,” said Rane.While the wildlife safaris are at least 10 years away, in the short term, the department intends to start camping sites, kayaking, cycling tracks and hiking trails, beginning with Cotigao. These plans coincide with the state government’s push towards hinterland tourism. The minister said that the department can develop two camping sites immediately by spending Rs 2-3 crore at the Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary and at Cotigao, while a similar camping site at Nanoda will be set up through the PPP route. Aware that there will be resistance, Rane said that the department will involve the locals, particularly by training local youth as guides. Among other plans, the forest department hopes to upgrade the Bondla zoo, and create natural habitats for wild animals and bird watching sites.“There is no law that says that people cannot enter forests. We want to make it very friendly. We want to have a proactive approach so that Goans do not have to go far. They can go on a Saturday or Sunday to a wildlife park, or for a trek, or on a trail walk,” said Rane.
Sprawled across a hillock at Sinquerim and offering magnificent views of the Arabian Sea, the 17th century Fort Aguada has long been drawing hordes of tourists and locals to take in its architectural splendour. But it is the fort’s jail museum at the base of the hillock that has been attracting a steady flow of visitors of late, although activities planned for the historic site have yet to take off.Renovated and restored at a cost of Rs 26 crore, the structure had served as a full-fledged port during the Portuguese regime, complete with a jetty and a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Voyage where passengers would pray before setting out to sea. It was subsequently converted to a prison at which several freedom fighters had served time. The jail was operational post-Liberation too, until mid-2015, following which all its inmates were shifted to the central jail at Colvale.It lay largely neglected thereafter until the government decided to give it a new lease of life as a jail museum equipped with a host of modern technologies to help people understand and appreciate its hoary past.“As visitors walk through the passage next to the prison blocks, they will find information on the walls with 3D projection mapping, interactive screens, and audio and digital displays,” said Ravi Shankar, director of Waterfront Experiences Pvt Ltd which has been roped in by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation to maintain, manage and operate the historic structure.A senior tourism department official said all activities conceptualised for the jail museum will likely be launched by November 1 this year.Shankar said that once the project takes off in its entirety, it will generate over 350 direct and around 100 indirect job opportunities. “The prison bakery, for instance, which has been retained in its original form, will be made operational and will supply bread to cafes and restaurants housed in the complex by engaging a ‘poder’ (bread maker) from a nearby village,” he said.Guided walks throughout the museum will also be on offer, but visitors will be at liberty to explore the area on their own. Two light-and-sound shows will be held in the open area outside the prison cells before and after sunset, narrating the history of Goa till Liberation. While the theme will revolve around freedom, the curation will be refreshed every year.“The cultural centre will select one element from a broad theme each year and build around it. This way, there will be something new to learn, understand and experience each year,” Shankar said and added that a Christmas market at the premises is on the cards for this year.Another feature is the fair weather jetty — operational from October to April — which will allow visitors to take a ferry from Aguada to Old Goa, thereby connecting two major historical sites. A shuttle bus service from the Aguada helipad atop the hillock to the jail museum at its base is alsoexpected to begin shortly.The jail museum was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 19, 2021, during his visit to Goa to participate in celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the state’s Liberation.
Panaji: Registration of female human trafficking cases in Goa is on the decline since 2020. Also, not even a single girl victim of trafficking has been rescued in Goa by the police during the last four months. In all, 171 cases of women trafficking were registered since 2017 till June 2022. Out of these, 70 were in North Goa, 43 in South Goa and 58 at the crime branch.After 2020, only 40 such cases have been registered.“Since April, not a single girl victim has been rescued by the police. This will send a wrong signal in society that police have stopped rescuing girls. The law-enforcing agencies must reply as to why they could not rescue even a single victim during the last four months,” said Arz director Arun Pandey. He also said that Covid is one of the reasons which has impacted the number of rescue operations in the state.“Globally, including in India, trafficking of girls in the age group of 18 to 25 years has increased considerably. Some of the victims are working in small towns and malls as they are the only breadwinners in their family,” Pandey said. “Due to Covid, many lost their jobs owing to companies shutting down. Many of those jobless had to take care of their families and look for financial security. The situation increased their vulnerability for sex trafficking.”He further said that if Goa police doesn’t send a strong message to traffickers by rescuing girls, the number of victims will increase during the ensuing tourist season. Pandey said traffickers have started targeting local girls and also those from the neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Karnataka. He also said that the downturn in tourism activities and police remaining engaged in Covid duties were some of the reasons behind the decline in registration of human trafficking cases.
Margao: Days after it gained the distinction of being the first Ramsar site in Goa, the water resources department (WRD) on Friday took up the cleaning of the Nanda lake at Xeldem, Curchorem, where the villagers assisted in the cleanup exercise.The lake, spread over an area of 42 hectares, is one of Goa’s largest wetlands. It is one of the 10 new wetlands in India to get Ramsar site status, conferred on wetlands of international importance. Being designated a Ramsar site means that the Nanda lake is now on the global map for its importance in providing ecological services.The wetlands — land areas covered by water, either seasonally or permanently — play a key role in flood control and as sources of water, food, fibre and raw materials. Besides, such land areas also support mangroves that protect coastlines and filter pollutants.Any kind of encroachment, setting up of industry, expansion of existing industries, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents, poaching and any construction of a permanent nature are among the activities which are prohibited within the wetlands.With Nanda lake getting the Ramsar status, the wetland site is likely to be turned into an ideal site for sustainable and community-oriented tourism. Consequently, locals are likely to benefit from the number of livelihood opportunities that will be generated by the move. Restrictions in development at the site will also mean better quality of water of the lake even as traditional livelihood activities will have to be in consonance with the sustainable character of the wetland, sources said.The location will be preserved and beautified by the government under the supervision of the local lake management committee.
Panaji: The Goa Forest Development Corporation, which is the nodal agency for ecotourism activities, aims to develop the isolated village of Surla, which is nestled in the Chorla ghat, as a hill station. Making the announcement, Poriem MLA Dr Deviya Rane said that development of eco-tourism activities will benefit locals as well as generate revenue for the state.“I am planning to get some cottages and develop Surla village. I want to develop it as a hill station of Goa because it is at a height,” Rane said. Surla is across the Goa-Karnataka border and can only be reached by crossing over into Karnataka. Rane said that Surla offers untapped opportunities for bird trails, trekking, camping and other wildlife activities. “I want to develop camping sites and develop that area. Slowly, in a month or two, we will start implementing. Once tourism-related activities start, the place will develop,” she said.
Panaji: Stating that child protection is part of responsible tourism, the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has asked the tourism department to ensure that guest houses and hotels don’t permit minors, who are unrelated to adults accompanying them, to stay with the adults as there have been several cases of children being exploited and trafficked.Chairperson of the commission Peter Borges said that during registration the department should obtain an undertaking from owners of hotels, homestays and guest houses that they will comply with Section 8 (10)(b) of the Goa Children’s Act 2003. The section states that no child shall be allowed to enter any room of any hotel or establishment which provides boarding or lodging or any similar facility unless the child is registered as staying in that room with family, relatives or person related by blood.“Once the homestay, guest house and hotel owners sign this declaration, they will be aware of the section and be more cautious when accepting guests,” Borges added. He suggested that the persons manning reception desks should be alert and check identification for relation between children and adults.The commission’s letter to the department stated that most travellers and tourists in Goa prefer to stay in rented premises where owners sometimes are found to be “indifferent about tourists travelling with children” but should be alert to any sexual exploitation of children and minors and report to child protection system.
Panaji: While the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) on Wednesday expressed satisfaction that the tourism department has reduced the number of documents needed to be submitted by any tourist-related business at the time of fresh registration or renewal, it awaits a single-window clearance system and not “windows within the window”.“We are very happy that our long-pending demand to remove hurdles in registering or renewing tourist services has been granted,” said TTAG president Nilesh Shah, but pointed out that a single-window clearance for all tourist trades would herald a relief in the real sense. He also suggested that the efficiency of such a system could be monitored by the tourism department every three months. Shah nevertheless said the latest relaxations by the tourism department are indeed a big relief that will save new and young business people from having to run from pillar to post to obtain certification or clearances from other government departments before they approach the tourism department for registrations or licence renewals. “With businesses now required to submit fewer documents, illegal operations will also reduce. Earlier, some operators, after realising that they had to follow a long process to get registrations done, would bypass the system and operate illegally,” Shah said.The order, issued by tourism director Nikhil Desai on Tuesday, stated that tourism trades will have to obtain a registration or renewal certificate, as the case may be, within 15 days, and if found operating illegally, the premises will be sealed, and penalty imposed as provided under the provision of the Goa Registration of Tourist Trade Act, 1982.A South Goa hotelier, said that once a single-window clearance for events is introduced, the police and village panchayats concerned should refrain from barging into venues and harassing the organisers unless there are complaints of major violations. This issue crops up frequently at beach weddings, the hotelier said, despite a single clearance from the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority sufficing for such events. “Even after permission from the GCZMA is obtained, there is no guarantee that the panchayat will not come claiming its pound of flesh. If not the panchayat, the police pay a visit seeking to know if the hotel has permission for sound,” the hotelier said.
Panaji: Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte said the government plans to introduce golf tourism, and a couple of areas have been identified as potential golf sites.He was speaking at an interaction between the World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative (WTTCII) and the government of Goa on Thursday. CM Pramod Sawant along with senior officials of the tourism ministry were also present.“We have started promoting wellness tourism, while we have identified a couple of areas for golf tourism. We are quite serious about what we want. High-end tourism will go up a few notches when we have a golf course,” stated Khaunte in a reply to a query by an attendee.The tourism minister said that the government was working on having a golf course in the state, but did not spell out any details. The attendee said it was every hotelier’s dream to see guests staying for four or five days in Goa, and to make it happen, golf tourism is pivotal. He also said that other sporting facilities have to be set up for high-end tourists to ensure they stay longer. tnn
PANAJI: The electronic dance music festival Sunburn, scheduled for December 28-30, has now been extended by a day with the specific aim to showcase Goan culture and artistes. However, it hasn’t yet been decided if the ‘Goa day’ will be before or after the three days of EDM. Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte told TOI that the proposal is before the department, and a decision on this would be taken after consulting the CM. Two months ago, Khaunte made it clear that the government wants Goan culture and Goan artisties to be given space at big-ticket events in the state. Even as Khaunte made the demand that Sunburn 2022 should be a bit different, its organisers maintain that Goa has always been at the festival’s centrestage. “Over the past 15 years, Sunburn has always integrated the spirit of Goa into the flagship festival,” said Harindra Singh, chairman and managing director of Percept, which runs the festival. “Across all areas of content, communication and the on-ground event, Sunburn has integrated and presented the unique essence and elements of the state spanning decor, design, food, beverage, and more. Even the festival name incorporates the name of the state to say ‘Sunburn Goa’ across all mediums of communication since its inception in 2007,” said Singh. He also said that Percept is currently in dialogue with Goa tourism and will jointly identify the best means by which they can curate a distinct zone dedicated to showcase the dynamic quintessence of Goa — food, beverage, music, talent, dance, art, history, culture and much more. “We will be working closely with Goa tourism to finalise the same,” said Singh. The local artistes who will perform at the venue will be decided by the tourism department, he said.
The rise in tourism avenues being promoted into the wild along the Western Ghats could increase the risk of human-wild interactions. In turn, there now stand more chances of zoonotic diseases spreading into the human communities, Dr E Sreekumar, director, Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV), Thiruvananthapuram, has said.Sreekumar was speaking while chairing a session Tuesday on applications of climate information for planning and decision-making for the health sector of Kerala during Kerala Climate Change Stakeholders’ workshop. The two-day workshop, organised by the Kottayam-based Institute for Climate Change Studies, concluded on Tuesday.“Due to growing opportunities promoted by eco-tourism, adventure tourism and travelling into the wild, there is more exposure of humans to wildlife. This also means that there is a higher risk of virus spill over into the community, and some of these could cause severe diseases. The Western Ghats could become a hotspot for spreading zoonotic diseases,” said Dr Sreekumar.The Western ghats—spanning Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala—is one of the world’s ecological biodiversity hotspots. This 1.40 lakh square kilometre area with mountain ranges stretches over 1,600 km north-south along India’s West coast and regulates the Indian summer monsoon. Believed to be older than the mighty Himalayas, the Western Ghats is also included in the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.It is home to some of the endemic and about 325 globally endangered species of flora, fauna, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and fish. It falls under the ‘hottest hotspots’ for its biological diversity. But growing human interventions and climate change could be adding increased stress to the flora and fauna here.Due to such rich biodiversity and multitudes of species, the senior virologist advised efforts to maintain a safe distance while venturing into the wild. “The interactions with the wild should be kept minimal and the natural species balance must not be disturbed. Only then can there be fewer chances of virus spill over into the human communities,” said Sreekumar.The biggest case study would be the coronavirus linked to bats in Wuhan, China, and its subsequent spread into the human communities followed by its viral spread the world over. The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared Covid-19 as a pandemic in early 2020.“Climate change could trigger disease outbreaks as it has a major role in pushing the temperatures and humidity, deciding on the future vegetation of localities and the availability of water,” added Dr Sreekumar.The overall warming and rising temperatures and its role in food safety should be studied in depth, recommended another participant Dr T S Anish, an associate professor in Community Medicine at the Government Medical College, Manjeri, Kerala.With regard to climate change and food, Dr Anish explained the example of how the shelf life of meat could be reduced under warmer conditions.” Earlier a consumer could purchase meat and store it for longer hours either in a refrigerator or otherwise. But due to rising temperatures due to the overall warming, bacteria, if present in the meat, would get favourable conditions to multiply and grow faster. This would make the meat unfit for human consumption. Such bacteria-loaded meat could lead to food poisoning in humans,” he said.In May this year, the Kerala Food, Drugs and Administration (FDA) had sprung into action following the death of a 16-year-old school girl after she had consumed chicken shawarma in Kannur. The food quality tests later revealed that the meat was stale and infected with the shigella virus which killed the schoolgirl.“Sometimes, well-cooked or heated food may have got rid of the bacteria, if at all present. But the poison from it may still linger on the meat and could pose health risks to the consumer,” said Dr Anish.
Panaji: Paving the way for hassle-free registration, the tourism department has reduced the number of clearances or permissions that trades are required to attach at the time of registering or renewing of any service. A senior tourism official said that “it has been a big change under ease of doing business”. Considered a “major relief” for tourism trades as they will now be able to register with the department by submitting bare minimum documents, the trades, however, will still have to obtain mandatory permissions of other departments. The difference is that the tourism department will not insist that those permissions be attached as a condition to register or renew a service.For registering a new hotel, an entity will be able to get the registration done provided it submits three documents such as ownership document, GST registration, if applicable, and an identity proof, while no document needs to be submitted for renewal.For registration of homestays, an individual or an entity that was required to submit 10 documents earlier can now obtain a registration certificate with just two documents, while none will be required if a renewal is sought. For registration of adventure sports, an operator will now be able to get the registration done with 10 documents instead of the 15 mandated earlier. Similarly, the documents needed to be submitted for temporary huts and shacks in private properties have been reduced by 50%, while for renewal a single compliance will suffice. The order to the effect was issued by tourism director Nikhil Desai on Tuesday stating that existing compliances have been reduced for various tourist services by simplifying the procedure of registering or renewing a service. The order further stated that tourism trades will have to obtain a registration or renewal certificate, as the case may be, within 15 days, and if found operating illegally, the premises will be sealed, and penalty imposed as provided under the provision of the Goa Registration of Tourist Trade Act, 1982.Former president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa Savio Messias said that they will no longer have to run helter-skelter to get ready all the compliances before approaching the department for obtaining a registration certificate.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant has advised state environment secretary A K Mishra to examine and simplify the procedure to grant consent to operate under the Air Act and Water Act.At a meeting between Sawant and secretaries recently, Mishra said that over 1,700 applications are pending before the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) for these nods, to which Sawant said, “A cumbersome procedure leads to more unauthorised activities and loss of revenue for the state”. The environment secretary said that he has directed the board to work on reducing these pendencies. The GSPCB issues consent to operate to hotels, mining, the pharma and chemical industries, restaurants, and fabrication units, among others. It issues consent under four categories, red, orange, green and white.Sawant also advised all departments to examine their recruitment rules, and that special emphasis be given on education. “Educational qualification should be in line with the requirements of the jobs.” The CM also asked the secretaries to keep him in the loop for all development-related works and schemes in which there is communication between the state and the Union government. He also instructed all secretaries to prepare a list of cases where their departments are parties before the Supreme Court, High Court and National Green Tribunal.He also asked secretaries to examine all proposals for financial expenditure scrupulously. “Unnecessary expenditure should be cut. Revenue-earning departments should come up with their action plan in the next meeting to increase the revenue of the state,” he said.He also asked secretaries to prepare a list of buildings owned and hired by their departments, and submit it to the chief secretary.Regarding tenant verification, Sawant who is also home minister, asked police to share the list with the PWD and electricity department. “If connections are being used for commercial purposes, the PWD and electricity department must charge them at the commercial rate,” he said.Urban development secretary Ramesh Verma told Sawant that trade licence application pendency has been reduced by over 50%. Sawant then instructed the panchayat and tourism secretaries to examine similar pendencies, and advised them to cut down on unnecessary procedures. The CM said that there is not much public awareness about central schemes, and directed secretaries to appoint nodal officers from their department for each scheme, and to carry out extensive public awareness so that benefits reach eligible persons.
Panaji: A written reply in the Rajya Sabha by the Union government stating that the controversial bungalow at Old Goa was built in violation of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, is perhaps a further endorsement of action taken by state departments.Union minister for tourism and culture, G Kishan Reddy in a written reply to Trinamool Congress MP, Luizinho Faleiro, on July 29 stated that the building is within the protected area of St Cajetan Church and that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has issued showcause notices to the project promoter.The Union government’s reply throws light on several incorrect statements about the illegal bungalow at Old Goa. A few MLAs said during the recent assembly debate that the construction falls in the buffer zone, at a distance of less than 300m, from the ASI monument — the Church of St Cajetan.“The buffer zone does not apply here, as the plot of survey no 4/1 has been statutorily listed as the protected area of the Largo of St Cajetan and connected ruins,” architect and heritage activist, Tahir Noronha, said.Activists have also disagreed with town and country planning (TCP) minister Vishwajit Rane’s statement that TCP only gave permission to the bungalow after the National Monument Authority (NMA) did.On June 1, 1968, ASI had declared the plot of survey no 4/1 as the Largo’s protected area along with other monuments in Old Goa after seeking public opinion. The buffer zones were introduced only after the ASI act was amended in 2011, which also envisaged setting up of the NMA for scrutinising construction activity between 100 and 300m from the protected area. “NMA has no jurisdiction in this plot (of the bungalow) and as per RTI replies, no central government department gave permission before the TCP did,” Noronha said.In a written reply to AAP MLA Cruz Silva, the TCP has projected an ASI letter from 2020 as NMA permission. “ASI and NMA are two different departments,” he said.
Panaji: While the Centre has been forced to admit that an unauthorised bungalow has come up close to the Old Goa Unesco heritage site, the state government continues to delay action against the structure, said TMC on Saturday. It also questioned the BJP-led government’s failure to demolish the structure, and demanded immediate action.Union minister for tourism and culture G Krishan Reddy, in a reply to TMC national vice-president Luizinho Faleiro, admitted that laws were violated when the structure came up.Highlighting Reddy’s statement, Goa TMC functionaries Trajano D’Mello, Samil Volvaiker and Pratibha Borkar launched a scathing attack on the government for its inaction and failure to take a clear stand on the matter.Volvaiker said that more than seven months have lapsed since the case was filed before the director of panchayats. “The failure of the panchayat department to demolish the structure only brings to the fore BJP government’s vested interests,” he said. tnn
PANAJI: The Goa electricity department, which continues to make technological advancements to enhance consumer experience, has become only the second government utility service in the country to launch the dynamic QR code system for bill payments. Through this system, which was launched on Saturday, a QR (quick response )code will be printed on each consumer’s electricity bill, allowing them to make payments in seconds. “The consumer will simply have to scan the QR code using apps such as Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Bhim, PhonePe etc. The bill details along with the amount to be paid will appear on the screen. The consumer simply has to press the ‘pay’ tab and payment will be complete,” a department official stated. “The details of payment will appear on the screen and the consumer will also receive an intimation via SMS. The entire payment process can be completed in a few seconds. QR code-based payment is more efficient, less time-consuming, error-free, more secure and tamper-proof,” the official said. Union minister of state for ports, shipping, waterways and tourism Shripad Naik launched the QR code on electricity bills at a programme at the Institute Menezes Braganza hall on Saturday in the presence of power secretary V Y Y J Rajasekhar, chief electrical engineer Stephen Fernandes, and others. The function was a part of the grand finale of the Ujjwal Bharat, Ujjwal Bhavish Mahotsav celebrated across the country to highlight the achievements in the power sector during the last eight years and the vision till 2047. Naik appreciated the department’s initiatives under the ease of doing business objective and for providing services to consumers even during tough times. The QR code, he said, will be an additional easy option of payment for consumers. Rajasekhar paid the first electricity bill using the QR code at the programme. Fernandes provided a presentation on the working and benefits of the QR code and various other payment initiatives offered by the department. He also said the department ranks second in the country in terms of the number of digital transactions.
Though public funds worth crores were spent on foreign trips in the name of Chandigarh, the city doesn’t seem to have gained much from them.Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex was accorded world heritage site in 2016, but its restoration, which was to be carried out for Rs 25.51 crore (in 2019), still hangs fire. A consultant hired for this project left the work midway.City officers have continued to “educate” themselves about heritage with visits abroad. In September 2019, then Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav attended a “meeting of International Standing Conference- the architectural work of Le Corbusier and outstanding contribution to modern movement” from September 24 to 25 at Stuttgart, Germany. Finance Secretary Ajoy Sinha had attended the same meeting in Tokyo from November 8 to 9 in 2017.In October 2018, then Director, Museum and Art Gallery, Radhika Singh, participated in a workshop on conservation management planning in London from October 2 to 5.SMART CITYChandigarh was declared a smart city in 2015 but till now there is nothing ‘smart’ about the city except for cameras to catch traffic violations earlier this year.Administrators have undertaken several trips overseas to attend conferences on smart cities and allied solutions even though the city is yet to implement most of these.Former MC commissioner Baldeo Purushartha visited the UK to study development frameworks for smart cities from October 3 to 7, 2016.Two months later, Purushartha was given permission to attend a seminar on smart cities in Paris on December 6.Earlier, he visited Singapore from June 27 to July 2, 2016 (excluding journey days) to attend a programme on eco districts. He was also given permission to attend “Indo French Joint Working group on Sustainable Urban development and technical visit” from February 22-25, 2016.In 2017, then home secretary Anurag Agarwal and Purushartha visited Nottingham from March 22 to 25 for a similar study.In 2019, then Home Secretary Arun Gupta, then Municipal Commissioner K K Yadav and then Deputy Commissioner Mandip Singh Brar travelled to Barcelona, Spain, for “Smart City Expo and World Congress, 2019” from November 19 to 21.TOURISM AND TRAVELThe city officers have also been travelling far and wide to woo overseas tourists though there is no evidence of a steep rise in foreign tourists on the ground.In March 2019, then Home Secretary Arun Gupta, then Director of Tourism Jitender Yadav, were given permission to “participate in International Tourism Bourse” at Berlin from March 6 to 10.In November 2019, Harish Nayar, Special Secretary, Finance, and Rakesh Popli, then Director Tourism, travelled to World Travel Mart, London, from November 4 to November 6, 2019. Orders on their trip stated, “The officers shall proceed on November 1, 2019, for preparatory arrangement and return on November 10, 2019.”In 2018, it was Uma Shankar Gupta, then chief general manager, CITCO, who was sanctioned a visit to the World Tourism Mart in London from November 5 to 7.During 2017, Anurag Agarwal, then Home Secretary, and Jitender Yadav, then Director of Tourism, were given permission to attend World Travel Mart in London from November 6 to 8 besides visiting Copenhagen from November 9 to 11.Earlier, in November 2016 too, Agarwal and Jitender Yadav had participated in this London “world travel market” from November 4 to 9, besides visiting Bristol to study their good practices from November 10 to 12.NO STARTUP POLICY YETIt was in 2018 that Chandigarh began to frame its start-up policy and it hasn’t seen the light of day yet.In September 2019, IAS officers Arun Kumar Gupta and Vinod P Kavle were sanctioned a trip to participate in the “international exposure visit to USA startup ecosystem from September 30 to October 5, 2019 (excluding journey time)”. The conference was to be held in both San Francisco and Seattle.WHAT A WASTEThough officers and municipal councillors have been regularly visiting cities at home and abroad to study best practices in waste management, Chandigarh’s mountain of waste is only getting higher. The city has also deteriorated in its Swachhta ranking from No. 2 to No. 66.Councillors and various elected representatives from the UT have in the past visited Copenhagen, Singapore, Bangkok, Germany and Italy, besides visiting various states within the country to study waste management.Records show that UT councillors have visited Ahmedabad, Surat, Nagpur, Indore, Pune, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, to name a few, to study waste management plants there. Now they are planning another tour to Goa for the same purpose.
Panaji: Tourism officials, along with police, conducted surprise raids at the Captain of Ports (CoP) jetty and the Santa Monica jetty on Friday and apprehended five touts. The five touts, a senior tourism official said, will be fined under the Tourist Trade Act.Earlier this week, the department demolished six illegal structures at Rajbag beach in Canacona. This comes after the demolition drive it carried out at Calangute beach last month.“All six illegal structures, built by locals, were fully removed from the beach. Our action against those conducting business illegally on beaches will continue and their material will be confiscated,” the official said. Since May, the department has increased surveillance in a bid to remove illegal operators from beaches who either operate as touts or vendors while some bring deck beds and beach umbrellas on beaches.Nobody can conduct any business on any beach in the state without the permission of the tourism department. The department gives permission to set-up shacks on beaches only in September-October and every season, the shacks have to be demolished by May 31. Even deck beds and beach umbrellas are not permitted on any beach during the off season. Other than beach shacks, the tourism department allows a few individuals, mainly locals, to put a certain number of deck beds on a beach.This time, with a steady flow of tourists, several people were seen operating illegally post May 31 at Calangute and other beaches.
Panaji: Even as it’s fairly common knowledge that beach shacks are sublet against the rules, the tourism department said it hasn’t received a single complaint pertaining to this since 2019.The Shack Owners’ Welfare Society (SOWS) says that shacks at Calangute, Baga, Candolim, Arambol, Cavelossim, and Colva are sublet, but nobody complained as “complaining is perceived as an exercise in futility”.“The complaints get leaked, and the person who sublets the shack shows his presence at the premises when they are expecting a check by the tourism department, and eventually, no evidence is found,” said SOWS president Cruz Cardozo. In the recently-concluded assembly session, opposition leader Michael Lobo tabled a question about subletting, and the government, in a reply, stated that no complaint was filed from 2019-2022 (the period of the most recent beach shack policy). Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte, meanwhile, said that his department would systematically crack down on illegal operators. “We want all tourism activities to be registered and illegal operators to be taken to task. We have amended the Goa Registration of Tourist Trade Act in the monsoon session,” said Khaunte.The task to crack down on beach shacks, however, is easier said than done. The premise of the tourism department for not acting against subletting — even as the beach shack policies that were in force in the past at no point permitted sub-letting — has been either that no complaint was received, or there was no evidence to act.Cardozo said that traditional shack operators were always opposed to subletting as it encouraged illegalities. “New operators get into the business eyeing huge profit margins, but running a shack is not easy. We have not reached where we are today by being in business for just one season,” said Cardozo. While he agrees that checking and finding evidence of subletting is difficult, he said that the department will have to act against subletting by having surprise checks or at least find a new way to deal with the problem.
Calangute: Two projects launched by the water resources department (WRD) in Calangute and Candolim in December last year have been at a standstill since the last assembly election. The two projects— one at Khobrawaddo, Calangute, costing approximately Rs 2.7 crore and the other in the mangroves near the Candolim-Nerul bridge at an approximate cost of Rs 4 crore— had been launched just before Christmas. The project at Calangute involved redevelopment of the nullah at Khobrawaddo, which drains rainwater from a large part of Calangute into the Baga river. “It was planned to be redeveloped to harvest water for the dry season, while also recharging the groundwater levels in the area, building of a retaining wall with a jogging track around it and other facilities for the public,” WRD officials had said. The work order for the project had been issued, however, there has been no development at the site since. It was to be completed within six months. The Candolim project was to develop the backwaters to promote inland tourism, the WRD officials had said. The project included a walkway and fishing galleries.
Panaji: The tourism department has begun taking steps to bring some uniformity along the beaches by proposing a pilot project to set up model shacks at two stretches each at North and South Goa. However, shack operators are apprehensive over the department’s motive.As per the pilot project, the department has proposed to construct shacks of standard size, shape and design rather than leaving the task to operators.Shack operators are worried that competition will intensify among allottees once the department takes over the task of building shacks.An announcement to this effect was recently made by tourism minister Rohan Khaunte. He, however, had said that the department has not decided on the design and who would set up the shacks under the project.“We will seek feedback from all stakeholders and then decide on what has to be done,” said Khaunte. Cruz Cardozo, president of Shack Owners’ Welfare Society (SOWS) said,”The operators are concerned that hotels vying for beach spaces will grab this opportunity to gain a foothold on beaches.” The association had a meeting with the department over this issue, while another is expected to take place next month.Shacks are allotted through a draw of lots, and only local unemployed candidates are eligible to participate in the draw.“Some operators feel that if the department erects the shacks, then they will be at disadvantage,” Cardozo said.Cardozo said some of the suggestions by the department have been appreciative, such as having a common washroom facility as it will reduce the burden for allottees.Presently, each shack has an independent washroom for its guests. Some also offer locker facilities, he said. Goa witnesses around 350 to 360 shacks that are set up across the beach stretches during the tourism season. While the size and location of a shack allotted on any beach is decided by the department at the time of draw of lots, these are set up by allottees by following broad conditions listed under the beach shack policy.The use of plastic material is discouraged, and a temporary structure has to be set up using eco-friendly material.
Panaji: The state election commission said on Wednesday that after scrutiny and withdrawal of candidates, 5,038 are left in the fray, of which 64 have been elected unopposed. The panel said that 621 candidates withdrew their nomination.Bardez has the highest number of panch members who have been elected unopposed (13), followed by Salcete (11) and Sattari (11).Bardez also tops the list with the most number of candidates, with 995 individuals in the fray for the August 10 polls for 186 village panchayats. The villages in Salcete will see 863 candidates battling it out for a seat in the panchayat.The talukas of Salcete and Bardez comprise 33 village panchayats each.Panchayat elections are not held along party lines, but the two main parties have fielded their karyakartas and supporters for the polls. Legislators in several constituencies ensured that their staunch supporters were elected even before the votes were cast.In Bardez , former Salvador do Mundo sarpanch Sandeep Salgaonkar (ward 2) and former deputy sarpanch Reena Fernandes (ward 3) were declared elected unopposed. This will be their second term as panchayat members, and both are backed by tourism minister Rohan Khaunte.Saligao MLA Kedar Naik also claimed credit for five panch members emerging victorious in Reis Magos on the final day for withdrawal.Archives and archaeology minister Subhash Phal Desai, who represents Sanguem constituency, saw four of his candidates being elected unopposed. Cortalim panch member Manuel Silva is the only candidate to be elected unopposed in Mormugao taluka.
Panaji: The government has decided to extend the validity of beach shack licences by a year in view of loss of business since March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The three-year validity of beach shack licences had ended with the conclusion of the Beach Shack Policy on May 31 this year.Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte told TOI that since most operators failed to earn any business from March 2020 onwards, the government considered their request sympathetically and has decided to allow them to operate for one more year. “There won’t be a fresh allotment of beach shacks for the coming season. They (shack operators) had sought a relaxation for two years, but we have agreed to one year,” Khaunte said. The Shack Owners Welfare Society (SOWS) had earlier petitioned the tourism minister to allow the existing allottees to continue for another two years as a majority of them were unable to even cover the costs of their operations. Although the government had reduced licence fees by 50% during the last two seasons, the operators said it was not sufficient to make up for their losses.Shack operators on certain beach stretches hardly earned any business as UK nationals and other foreigners, who had traditionally formed a major chunk of their clientele, did not travel to Goa owing to pandemic-induced restrictions.Even after the ban on international travel was lifted last year, Goa did not receive a single charter flight from the UK, and a few that were scheduled had subsequently cancelled after India categorised the UK as an “at-risk” nation. Just a few charters came in from Russia and Kazakhstan. SOWS secretary John Lobo said he received queries from several of his repeat UK guests, but they ultimately decided not to travel to India. With India not issuing e-visas to UK travellers, their problems were compounded. “For the coming season too, we will not have UK tourists if the government continues with its old policy,” said Lobo.Most of the beach shacks were compelled to wind up earlier than usual this year due to a drop in business, but those located at popular beaches such as Calangute, Colva, Baga and Arambol did roaring business catering to the huge rush of domestic tourists throughout the season.“Some may not admit it, but shacks at popular beach stretches have seen good days after the third wave subsided in January,” a shack operator said.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told media persons in New Delhi Monday that his government has obtained permission for the extension of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). He added that the extension of the CRZ in Karnataka would boost development in the coastal region of the state.“The CRZ exemption limit has been extended in Goa and Kerala states which has helped growth of the hotel and tourism industry in a big way in those states in their coastal region. Serious efforts were made for a similar extension in Karnataka too. Now permission has been obtained from the regional office in Chennai. With this the 330 km long coast in Karnataka would see spurt in economic activity, fishing, tourism and hotel business,” the chief minister’s office said in a press release.The chief minister said discussions have been held with the Union transport minister on the construction of five ring roads in the state. “The Centre has agreed for concessions and GST exemption. The ring road works would be taken up in Raichur, Koppal, Gulbarga, Belagavi and Gadag towns. The Centre has also agreed to clear construction of 24 railway bridges across the state,” Bommai said.Talking about his government’s efforts in increasing employment opportunities in Karnataka, Bommai said: “The Union ministry for textiles and commerce has agreed to give in principle approval for setting up textile parks in Bijapur and Gulbarga. This would open up huge employment opportunities in the region.”During his New Delhi visit, the Karnataka chief minister has also sought clearance for pending proposals for development of ports and marinas (dock for small boats). This included 27 proposals under the Sagarmala project with a total expenditure of Rs 1,800 crore.“The Kali Waterway project would be cleared immediately upon submitting the DPR. The Union minister has assured clearance for Angaraghatta to Manipal waterway for which the DPR is being prepared. Feasibility funds would be provided for development of marinas in Baindur, Malpe and Mangaluru, which would give a big push for tourism and economic activities. Tenders would be invited for the project within the next 8-10 days. The project would be discussed at the Global Investors Meet to be held in November,” Bommai said.The chief minister further said he is scheduled to meet Union minister Bhupender Singh Yadav Tuesday evening to highlight Karnataka’s objections against the implementation of the Kasturirangan report on eco-sensitive areas.Bommai said BJP national president JP Nadda would inaugurate a convention titled ‘Janotsava’ in Doddaballapur to mark the first anniversary of his government on July 28.
Panaji: The Centre has rejected Mormugao Port Authority’s (MPA) proposal for funding under the Sagarmala scheme to purchase a mobile harbour crane and has instead recommended that the port must go through the public-private partnership (PPP) route. MPA will now attempt to get a private player on board through a revenue sharing model for a period of 10 years, but this process could take at least six months, said MPA chairman Venkata Ramana Akkaraju. Akkaraju provided this information to a Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation that went to discuss the infrastructure gaps at the port. “The chairman said that a tender will be floated at the end of July where a new crane will be mobilised for a period of 10 years on a revenue sharing model, but that the whole process might take up to six months to complete,” said a GCCI office bearer privy to the meeting. “He also informed that a proposal for funding a crane was put forth under the Sagarmala scheme, but it was not approved stating that the port should try sourcing the crane via the PPP model.” The GCCI delegation comprised Chandrakant Gawas, Dhirendra Thakker and Sanket Kaskar. The purpose of the meeting was to urge MPA to develop port infrastructure. Gawas informed the MPA chairman about the lack of regulatory authorities at the port to issue important clearances in the movement of cargo. “According to the export-import procedures, there should be six government partnered agencies which include drug controller, animal quarantine, plant quarantine and truck controller that should be present at the port to issue clearances, but currently, there are none who are authorised to sign the clearances,” said Gawas. Akkaraju said that due to the insignificant cargo movement, it is not feasible for regulatory authorities to be present at the port. Akkaraju said that increasing the cargo volume should be the first priority. GCCI pointed out that even though Goa has a significant number of pharmaceutical industries that source raw material and manufacture medicines and medical test kits, the companies are forced to ship the cargo through JNPT or Chennai port. Gawas informed Akkaraju that the GMR Group is willing to support MPA in any way required so that both the water and air modes of transport can be used for the logistics sector. A GCCI delegation, along with Akkaraju and deputy chairman MPA Guruprasad Rai, met with minister for state for tourism and ports Shripad Naik and also requested him to resolve the long-pending issues.
Keri: Every monsoon, the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary in Sattari attracts several people to its waterfalls. However, lack of discipline and cautiousness, besides apathy of the government authorities to keep a check, are turning these hidden gems into death traps. Earlier this month, two college youths from Vasco died at Tonir waterfalls in Caranzol, Sattari. Range forest officer of Mhadei wildlife sanctuary Deepak Tandel said, “Our staff make efforts to restrain people from venturing into the inaccessible and remote areas. We expect coordinated initiatives from other agencies to establish law and order.” Vitthal Shelke, a wildlifer from Sattari, said, “The forest department should collect entrance fees that can be used in ensuring cleanliness as well as deploying locals as the lifeguards and trackers. There is also a need to install sign boards warning against venturing into deep pools of water and risky areas.” In 2016, a youth from Taleigao, in 2017 one from Kundaim and two more from Karapur in 2019 drowned at waterfalls in Sattari. Last year, a youth from Vasco, died by drowning in the Jalavticho ozar and it took almost four days to bring his body from the inaccessible spot to Surla in Sattari. “During the assembly session, Poriem MLA Deviya Rane spoke about the hinterland tourism. However, absence of sound and systematic model of eco-tourism will result in chaos and misbehaviour besides spoiling the peace and tranquillity of the Mhadei sanctuary,” Shelke said.