The tourism department on Monday cracked the whip on illegal deck beds at Morjim beach, seizing three truckloads of beach beds, chairs, umbrellas and hoardings.
The raid by department officials with the help of a police team followed the STOI report on December 23, 'Morjim beach beds keep turtles away'. The beach, a premier turtle-nesting site, had been swamped by over 300 deck beds over the last weekend.
While a report about the raid is being compiled, the department will send notices to the shack owners shortly. Those found violating directives (of the new shack policy) will face strict action. "The shack owners will forfeit their security deposits (Rs 10,000 each)," said tourism director Nikhil Desai.
The department is also contemplating "harsh action" against the shack owners. "The department will consider a proposal to prohibit them from re-applying for shack licences next year," said Desai.
Officials said a vigil on illegal activities will continue. Last month, the department removed illegal deck beds on Arambol beach.
"Unfortunately, people expect to be regulated by laws and authorities instead of self-regulation. This is highly irresponsible," said Desai. Environmentalists and turtle activists point out that the problem on beaches aggravates on weekends when the flow of tourists, especially to Morjim, increases.
Desai told TOI it is a difficult proposition to monitor the entire 105-km coastline of the state with a manpower of just 150 personnel.
The number of turtle-nestings at Morjim and Mandrem beaches in North Goa has shown a decline this season. Only two nestings were reported, and in one case hatchlings emerged recently at Mandrem.
Monday's raid was conducted by assistant tourist officers Narendra Shirodkar and Rajesh Kale, PSI Sarvesh Bhandari of the tourist police, other officials and 30 labourers. [TOI]