Times of India | 3 days ago | 24-09-2022 | 04:45 am
Panaji: With opposition mounting against the changes to the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations, town and country planning (TCP) minister Vishwajit Rane accused activists of misguiding the people regarding the draft rules. Rane on Friday said the objections should be backed by scientific arguments so that the department can understand people’s concerns.He said domain experts will scrutinise the objections and suggestions receivedand only after that will the department proceed with the changes.“There are a few people misguiding the people of Goa, but there are certain guidelines laid down by the TCP Act that everyone has to follow,” the minister said. “The objections and suggestions that we receive will need to have a proper justification and learning of the subject, which will also help us understand the difficulties and the point of view of the people.”On Friday, RG held a protest outside the TCP office and submitted a list of concerns and objections regarding the draft proposal. A few days earlier, the Goa Bachao Abhiyan also listed out several loopholes in the draft regulations which could hurt Goa’s fragile ecosystem.“We will be inviting more experts on the panel who will be examining and scrutinising all the objections and suggestions received from the people and will move forward based on the procedures mentioned in the TCP Act, hence a very transparent mechanism that will be followed,” the minister said.Rane has already roped in representatives from the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India, Indian Institute of Architects, Confederation of Indian Industry, Institute of Engineers India and Institute of Town Planners India to provide inputs on the department’s functioning.He said that with iron ore mining shut, the state heavily relies on the tourism sector for revenue and employment. Rane said that by unlocking land banks in Goa for big ticket projects like a golf course, film city and other niche projects, Goa could attract investors, create jobs and increase revenue.“We want a sustainable development model for the state that will help us progress in a balanced manner, by creating mere noise and clamour we will only leave the growth of our state stagnant,” the TCP minister said.
Calangute: The Calangute panchayat has decided to collect garbage at night from October. The decision comes following suggestions from tourism minister Rohan Khaunte and other stakeholders at the recent International Beach Clean-up Day last Saturday.During the clean-up drive, resort owners, staff and other stakeholders said that garbage is only being collected during the day. But, with a large number of tourists visiting the coastal village during the night, garbage gets littered on the beach and roads during this time, which then becomes a sore sight for their guests and tourists visiting or walking around during the early morning hours. Garbage clearing workers start work only at 8am. “The trucks will also collect garbage late evening and from 6.30am onwards so that the roads are clean early morning,” Calangute sarpanch Joseph Sequeira said. Stakeholders also pointed out that the workers simply sweep the garbage from the roads into the nearest drains. Sequeira assured them that the workers will be trained to make them more effective.
Panaji: While the tourism department’s website does have essential basic information for tourists, like places to visit and activities, the department is keenly aware that these details are insufficient for the present-day traveller, especially when everything is technology driven.An app that can guide a traveller across destinations in North and South Goa will be launched by November-December, tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte said.“We have already started using technology to give tourists a better experience and we are in the process of introducing an app,” he said.The app will aid a traveller to access all information required to make his stay better and enjoyable. “A tourist will be able to download the app from the playstore. A wallet facility will be offered with a QR code, which he can use at various locations,” he said.GIS mapping of locations, he said, has started. The attempt is to see that every part or area is integrated into the facility.“Suppose a tourist is visiting Dudhsagar. All locations in that circuit will be geo-tagged. The tourist can make informed choices as he starts on a journey and sees more than one place in the circuit,” Khaunte said.A Dudhsagar-bound tourist can also visit the Tamdi Surla temple. Depending on the circuit chosen by the tourist, he will be able to see tourist spots in that area.Besidea, a call centre will promptly address any grievances or queries he or she may have.Travellers exploring Goa’s interiors have mostly gained their knowledge about locations other than coastal areas though social media, reels and YouTube videos. The number of tourists visiting waterfalls and other water bodies in the interiors have gone up and some even turn to adventures in their pursuits in total disregard to the dangers of venturing into inaccessible and remote areas.
PANAJI: Goa should focus on conserving and improving the population of sambar deer in its protected areas to help tiger conservation in the state. Sambar is the ideal prey for tigers, as it provides sufficient supply of meat for days and will allow tigers to stay and breed in Goa, said A J T Johnsingh, Padma Shri awardee, conservationist, and former dean of the Wildlife Institute of India. While subsequent ministers have often said that there are no ‘resident’ tigers in Goa and these big cats keep shifting base to the forests across the border, Johnsingh said proactive measures are required to get tigers to breed inside Goa’s protected areas. “Barking deer, spotted deer may not contribute to tiger conservation and gaurs tend to attack tigers. Sambar, once hunted, can be consumed for days. First, a detailed survey of the sambar population is required in Goa. There are sambars, but some years ago as many as 20 were poached. Sambar conservation in Goa is tiger conservation,” Johnsingh told TOI. He said the argument that a tiger reserve is not needed in Goa does not stand because though the state has almost 700sqkm of protected area, these have many human settlements within. “At least 150sqkm of core area is required with no human population. Any existing settlements should be rehabilitated. Simultaneously, efforts should be made to improve sambar population in the entire 700 sq km. And Goa will see results in five years’ time. Having a tiger reserve will earn Goa funds from the Centre for support staff, a good field director and vehicles to improve its protected areas,” said Johnsingh, who has helped shape the Wildlife Institute of India over his two-decade-long stint there. An interim cattle compensation policy is also vital for tiger conservation, Johnsingh said. “In Corbett, in the buffer area, more than 10,000 cattle have been killed over the years. But there is not a single report of tiger poisoning. This is because if Rs 20,000 is provided as cattle compensation to locals, Rs 5,000 of it is provided immediately as interim relief. Some wealthy persons from Goa should come forward to help with funds for such immediate relief in the interest of tiger conservation,” he said. Goa also needs more courageous forest officials, Johnsingh said. “We need forest officials who have courage to tell ministers what exactly is needed for Goa,” he said. Johnsingh also said Goa is not suitable for tiger safari focused tourism because of its terrain and other factors. “In Goa, one should focus on nature tourism, like birdwatching, reptile watching, amphibian watching, rather than tiger tourism,” he explained.
Panaji: GFP on Sunday questioned if locals stand to benefit from the tourism department’s jetty policy. Party president Vijai Sardesai also asked if the state government would share revenue with the village panchayats.While agreeing that river transportation could ease traffic congestion, Sardesai made it clear that he saw the jetty policy as a step towards the introduction of offshore casinos in other parts of Goa.“I feel some issues remain ambiguous,” he said. “Once a cruise terminal comes into existence, how long will it take for offshore casinos to mushroom in other rivers across Goa?”To back his suspicions, Sardesai asked the government if it has data on the number of Goans employed in the local cruise sector. He also pointed out that the government has not shown a preference for locals while issuing licences for cruise boats and jetty operations or for jobs created by the sector.Sardesai said his party welcomes the importance being given to river transportation, which is in line with eminent architect Charles Correa’s vision. He said that if the state government is serious about water transportation and cruise tourism, it should promote Mormugao Port as a cruise ship terminal instead of a coal terminal.
PANAJI: Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on Friday said that there’s been an increase in various fees for shack owners, and asked chief minister Pramod Sawant to reduce them. Lobo said that Sawant promised he would look into the matter. Lobo met Sawant and discussed issues pertaining to stakeholders of the tourism industry. The Calangute MLA said that tourism minister Rohan Khaunte has started the shack allotment process and even granted a one-year extension. “The finance department has increased fees for shack licenses by 80% and deck bed fees have increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000. Even garbage fees have been added, which was never there earlier,” Lobo said. He said that the shack owners’ association has urged the CM to provide some relief where fees are concerned. “All shacks do not do the same business,” Lobo said. “Some shacks at good locations will not have problems paying the fee. But there are some locations with very few tourists, and they may face issues.” The Calangute MLA said many shack owners have not paid last year’s fees, and that the tourism department told them their licence would not be renewed.