Tourism department cracks whip on illegal deck beds at Baga

The tourism department on Friday confiscated a large number of deck beds and other material like mattresses from Baga beach.

Personnel from the tourism department along with representatives of the village panchayat swooped down at Baga beach around noon and carted away the deck beds with the help of hired labourers.

The police maintained a protective vigil during the operation. The beds were carted away in trucks.

Talking to TOI, one of the deck bed owners requesting anonymity, said he did not mind the confiscation of the deck beds. He said he can always go and claim his two dozen confiscated beds, but then he will have to pay a fine and his name will also be blacklisted by the tourism department, which may then adversely affect his chances of getting a deck bed licence in the forthcoming tourist season

The operation consequently witnessed no resistance although a large number of deck bed owners were gathered at the site. Many of them also operate seasonal beach shacks.

Hanumant Parsekar, deputy director, department of tourism, told TOI that the new BJP government is yet to decide on the question of giving licences to people to put deck beds on the beach. "Last year we had given a few licences to unemployed youth in Calangute and Baga. But this year the policy has not yet been finalized," he said, adding that the policy regarding deck beds will be finalized in another week or two.

Last year the tourism department had issued around nine licences at the rate of 1,000 per pair, and each licence holder was given permission to put up three pairs of beds. Shack owners are allowed up to 10 pairs. However, most operators exceed their licenced quota and put up a large number of beds, which end up crowding the beach.

Renting out beach beds is highly lucrative at Baga and Calangute, at 200 an hour during the peak season. The entire seasonal fee of 1,000 can be recovered in less than a day.

Many in Baga and Calangute put up deck beds illegally before the official start of the season next month, prompting authorities to remove the beds. [TOI]