The tourism department’s drive to confiscate deck beds at Calangute Beach on Monday came in for sharp criticism from Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, who wondered if the tourism department’s sudden drive with a strong police force was improving or killing tourism in the area.
A team led by Deputy Director of Tourism Department Hanumant Parsekar confiscated deck beds, chairs, tables and other items kept near the shacks at Gaura Vaddo. Angry locals, however, blocked the tourism department’s truck carrying the confiscated material.
“The Tourism Department team confiscated deck beds and other items kept behind the shacks and fishing nets. Surprisingly, the tourism department team even confiscated material from private shacks which come under the Calangute panchayat and served notices to the shacks owners and demanded money from them,” Calangute Panch Joseph Sequeira told Herald.
Refuting Sequeira’s allegation, Parsekar replied: “What we asked from the shack owners was a penalty of Rs 20,000, besides forfeiting the security deposit of Rs 20,000 for not adhering to the rules of the Shack Policy.”
“We confiscated deck beds and other shack-related items from the areas where the department did not provide any NOC for the purpose,” he said.
“We removed everything illegally put up along the Gaura Vaddo stretch until Sequeira arrived and blocked the access, besides causing some confusion. Calangute MLA Lobo also arrived at the site, but he understood the illegalities,” added Parsekar.
“It is a fact that shack owners from Gaura Vaddo have been putting extra beds while others stuck to the maximum number of deck beds,” he said.
Lobo also questioned the tourism department’s drive at Calangute.
“Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had visited the beaches of Candolim and surrounding areas on Sunday and was happy with the beach discipline. But surprisingly, the tourism department along with 40-50 policemen arrived on Monday and confiscated deck beds and other items,” said Lobo.
“Discipline can be maintained with 2-3 police personnel, but a large police force will scare away the tourists. I do not understand what the tourism department is up to and if this continues, we may not get foreign tourists in future. Are we killing the tourism or improving it with such unwarranted actions,” questioned Lobo.
As the locals refused to allow the tourism department’s truck to leave the site, the confiscated material was later released to their respective owners. [H]