Sequeira warns of dharna over govt’s ‘plan’ for Baga beach

MAPUSA: Ex-Calangute sarpanch and present panch member, Mr Joseph Sequeira, has warned of a sit in dharna if the government went ahead and put up any more water sports facilities or put up a ‘model’ shack at Baga as was being planned.
Mr Sequeira said that the Tourism Department does not in any way contribute to improving infrastructure of the belt while it collects revenue from them and now since the panchayat and the local MLA have put things in order and have cleared Baga of all the mess everyone is now eyeing it.
He said that he will not accept this and will not mind sitting alone on a dharna.
After the GTDC gave its nod for putting up a model shack at Baga and giving it for lease for 11 years, local residents along with MLA, Mr Michael Lobo, have come out strongly against this government move and have even dared GTDC chairman, Mr Nilesh Cabral, MLA and Tourism Minister, Mr Dilip Parulekar, warning them if at all they went ahead they would have to face serious consequences.
“We dare Mr Cabral and Mr Parulekar to come up with any type of project including a shack or anything at Baga. We will not take it lightly and we will fight to save Baga as we have done in the past,” said Mr Sequeira at a public meeting at Baga on Friday afternoon.
Further speaking, Mr Sequeira said that a project of a hotel that was to come up at Baga a few years back was opposed and they would do the same thing now as they do not want Baga to be destroyed.
“I just cannot understand what the government is upto. Let us aim to provide good facilities to the visiting tourists and give them a good access to the beach. If we are going to put up shacks and that too sublet them then the government is only contradicting its own policy. As it is, the tourism department has messed up with the peace of this area. If they are so interested, let them even run the panchayat of Calangute, we will sit at home. What is not wanted to be done is being done and what is required to be done is not being done,” he remarked.
He said that all this while the Tourism Department had never thought of giving good roads, good infrastructure in Calangute and now just because he along with Mr Lobo are cleaning up Baga, the Tourism Department is now eyeing Baga.
He urged Chief Minister Mr Parrikar to intervene and cancel the shack proposal else there would be trouble in Baga.
The MLA Mr Michael Lobo on his part also expressed similar sentiments and said that instead of spending crores of rupees at the World Travel Mart, the government must spend the money in improving infrastructure at Baga and at all the beaches.
“After getting elected I have been working tirelessly to restore Calangute to its earlier glory, proper toilets, changing rooms, garbage disposal system are  the need of the hour. We will not allow a model shack to come up and disturb the tranquility of Baga,” he said.
He said that the government should ponder why the number of tourists is declining in Goa and must put in efforts to improve Goa as a tourist destination rather than  making attempts that would only lead to the destruction of tourism as this is the only sector left now that is contributing to the state economy after the closure of mines.
“We hear immature statements  being made by people who are not familiar with the tourism scenario and such statements are only sending wrong signals and Goa will lose on tourism one fine day” he said.
He said that he is with the people of Calangute in opposing what is not good for them and government should see the writing on the wall and must take necessary action rather than getting in a conflicting situation.
Other speakers namely Mr Albert Fernandes, Mr Peter Carvalho, Mr John Lobo, Mr Rajendra Korgaonkar and Mr Anthony Menezes also opposed the proposed move of the government in coming up with a model shack at Baga. [NT]