Goa is my favourite place in India – why ? Being a resident of Delhi I can make the contrast – far less traffic (except for the time period between say 20th December and 5th January when all of Delhi and Mumbai descends on Goa to have a party), paddy fields (and hopefully there will remain – unlike in Delhi – where farm has acquired a different meaning – one where you can build a residence), palm trees, beautiful beaches ( my favourites being ashvem / mandrem and cavelossim ),
relaxed and educated people (with a sussegad lifestyle) , some of the best restaurants (La Plage , Thalassa, Sakana, Sublime, and many others). Compared to Goa , life in Delhi is quite sub-par in my humble opinion.
This is not my conclusion – ask anyone, ask any of the foreign settlers why they decided to settle in Goa and not Delhi. Its the only place I know in India where expats have settled – those without the compulsion of a job that requires them to be in a specific city. Ask my colleagues , at every opportunity I rush to Goa – it is what life should be like. Goa is India’s California or Scotland – probably only prettier – thanks to pristine beaches and the weather.
However, rampant ( and perhaps uncontrolled ) commercialization is starting the ruin of Goa.
My first exposure to this was the armed attack at a club on New Years in Ashvem Beach two years ago. And this was a personal experience – We were waiting on the beach close to the footsteps of Club Fresh – when around twenty “boys” armed with iron rods barged into the club – hit whoever came in the way – damaged property and even fired shots in the air. Of course , nothing came of this – no one was arrested – the perpetrators simply walked away – clearly they had political / police backing and were there to possibly make a point (blackmail / hafta ??). It was kind of sad as the party held the night before was amazing, and we were hoping for more.
Shady Real Estate Deals
It is well known that properties are being sold with forged documents – everyone knows it – no one does anything about it. Just recently a land-lady in Anjuna (first name ‘Lucy’) was murdered by some brokers as they must have un-successfully tried to force her into selling her property. Apparently Goa real estate is red-hot as supply is constrained and clean title becoming rare – land is still very cheap in comparison to the metros. Therefore prices are continuing to gallop in spite of a recession in Delhi – and it does seem that sensing this opportunity all the unscrupulous property people from the metros – developers and brokers alike have descended on the town – especially North Goa which is considered to be great for investment.
If you want to try out new drugs in India – go to Goa – MDMA (which I believe is some variant of ecstacy – is available in plenty) – the talk of nigerians being in the drug business is just non-sense – it’s the local Mafia (local politicians ?). Gone are the innocent drugs , the hippie drugs – weed, hash – These days the profits are in chemical drugs – and they are available in plenty
Illegal Structures on the Beach
You cannot build permanent structures till 500 m from the beach – this is violation of the coastal regulation zone – which I believe is a very strict law. Of course this violation is rampant in Goa – particularly in the north. Most hotels in Morjim in fact are probably illegal (and you can make out the recent construction) – clearly in collusion with local government for sure.
The Garbage Problem
This post ; however, is not about the underbelly of Goa (because if you are not a business owner or into real-estate or a drug dealer – you do not quite care), but something that affects its pristine beauty and its environment directly. I bring this up in the context of Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. Goa incidentally is a BJP state and the word on the street is that its administration is excellent with an IIT-ian CM, having done a good job. A visit to any government office will confirm this. Unfortunately administration in Goa is a joint effort of the Panchayat and the State government and this intersection gives rise to many inefficiencies, creates many a lacunae in administration that is exploited by vested interests.
And frankly maybe this problem is not just restricted to Goa – remember the Satyamev Jayate episodes – garbage is big business – repeat garbage is big illegal business with “cash/illegal” profits for all involved – from government to private contractors. Thereby forming a coterie which wants to maintain status quo and not have any progress in the processing of garbage – quoting a line from the videos – “people are sleeping – what do they care about their garbage – lets make money!” – as an estimate (if I heard correctly) 90,000 crores are spent by the city of Mumbai to clear garbage into dumping grounds (thereby removing the problem from sight but nothing more) – why would the local politicians and the mafia give up control of this ?
The problem is that Goa is an extremely pretty place and garbage creates an extreme contrast. So while programs like Satyamev Jayate covered the garbage problem in Mumbai, Goa is a small state with localized politicking probably not having much effect on the national level. But the garbage problem is probably worse and much more visible.
Garbage Fires In Assagao
A bike ride on the Garbage dumps in Assagao Hills
Assagao Dumping grounds
The problem is not restricted to Assagao (a village in North Goa), it is rampant – garbage is being dumped wherever convenient including the Oceans destroying the environment and ecology with government just indulging in finger-pointing.
A broom will not help here – what is needed is a plan – a sustainable process of collecting and processing of garbage done in an environmentally friendly and economically viable way – else we will continue to have these garbage dumps and the ruin will continue.
Let us hope that the Swachh Bharat campaign does not simply become a photo-opportunity – but that it becomes a concerted effort to put an efficient and transparent system of garbage processing in place in our cities and towns.
Amir Khan highlighted a big point – Garbage can be big business – and we need to move the processing of garbage into the hands of these industries that can make a profit from its processing and away from the nexus of local-government and mafia that just burns tax payer money and dumps garbage where it cant be seen. We need to create city-wide, state-wide, and nation-wide policies for this to happen.
Attack On Club Fresh
5 Star Pollution Brings Two Villages Together
Goa: Learn from other warriors against waste
Image Source: Blue Waves Beach Goa, Anjuna Garbage, Thalassa Goa, Club Fresh Goa, Goa Portuguese Villa