All photographs: Ramesh Menon

India - Is Tourism Destroying Goa?

Poor governance and mediocre short-sighted politics are destroying the paradise that Goa was as its environment, water table, culture and way of life is drastically threatened by tourism and migration, points out Ramesh Menon.

When you utter the word Goa, which images open up in your mind?

Invariably, it will be images of lush green fields in the countryside dotted with coconut palms and other trees that sway in the wind and shine when it has rained.

You also imagine the scenic beauty of the Western Ghats, considered one of the richest reservoirs of biodiversity in the world, as it is punctuated with a fascinating mix of trees, plants, reptiles, insects, birds and animals.

You also see quaint Portuguese-style houses, clean beaches and merry locals who live to enjoy themselves with their feni, wine and good music.

Ah, yes, you also feel the aroma of various types of exotic cuisines, fish curry with rice.

All this caught the imagination of both domestic and international tourists who come in droves year after year. They love the simple lifestyle of the locals and their warm hospitality.

But a lot of it is changing.


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With thousands of tourists at any given point in time, the environment is taking a beating.

The countryside is dotted with hotels, restaurants, and homestays. Liquor stores and little shops catering to tourists.

Real estate companies are vying with each other to build cottages, villas and flats all over the state as residents from mainland India wish to shift to the scenic state or build a second home.

Rapid urbanisation is unable to sustain itself, given the poor infrastructure. It is no more the paradise it was.

Public transport is in a mess. Uber and Ola services are unavailable as the taxi groups will not let it come in.

So cab and auto fares are very unreasonable. It is common for cab drivers to demand Rs 100 or more for a kilometre.

Waste management is a serious issue plaguing the state, especially in rural areas, as garbage tied in polythene bags is just flung on the roadsides from passing vehicles.

Many light it up outside their homes; it is common to see smoke smouldering in the villages throughout the day. A lot of the garbage contains plastic making the smoke toxic.

Acting on a Bombay high court order panchayats put up boards in villages warning residents not to throw garbage in the open and if they did the fine would be Rs 5,000. Ironically, garbage is piled up just below the boards and in areas close to it.

Goa was liberated on December 19, 1961 after 450 years of Portuguese rule by Indian forces.

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