Disappearing sands dunes, open toilets, and the changing topography of Goa's shoreline are prominent with the passing of every tourist season. Margao, India. 20/01/2011
Silver Sands Hotel Colva, a business venture of late Filpino (Bill) Cardozo took its name from the once predominantly white silvery sands. Colva beach had abundant quantity of it dotting it coast, but with every passing tourist season, it is shirking in quantity.
That‘s not the only concern for Colvekar’s and Goenkars (Goans) who flock to the beach. The topography of Colva beach has changed drastically over the last ten years.
If Candolim villagers in North Goa can lay the blame game at the feet of the slowly disintegrating River Princess rotting on the beach for the last ten years for the woes. Here in Colva, it is the tourism stakeholders who are responsible for changing the topography of the sea shore.
If a few years back, you could walk pass the vehicles in the parking lot and head straight to the seashore without getting your feet, you cannot do it now.
One has to wade through the dirty sewage water if one prefers to get closer to the sea waves. Sewage water on the beach, you must be joking, said my friend who lives in the hinterland of Goa and comes occasionally to the seashore. No I am not joking, it is a really. Sewage water is been regularly and deliberately released into the drain with impunity by the hotel owners. The drain was designed to be a rain water drain but now has turned into an effective reservoir for business establishments to flush out the effluents into it and which find their way into the sea.
If tourism department and the stake holders in the tourism pie have been at wither ends to find solution to the old garbage issue. The stench from the sewage water and garbage makes one sick as soon as one reaches Colva beach.
Colva village is part of a larger Goa tourism bubble, which is showing signs of busting any time, blame it on the rampant destruction of the environment or the threat of the rising sea water level.
The tourism pie has brought people from various parts of India who have made Colva beach their home.
Thanks to the dormant and docile attitude of the locals and tourism department the migrants have set up shanties on the beach in Colva. With the springing of shanties, a host of hygienic issues remained unresolved. One of them is toilets not just for the migrants but for the tourists. There are no sufficient toilets at Colva for tourists, let alone the migrants.
A morning walk along Colva beach one is greeted by hordes of migrants answering nature calls in the bushes or on sand dunes, a few meters away from the seashore.
Tourism officials seem to have missed the point and numerous junkets to various western countries have not made them wiser. Hygienic issues have been given a back seat over the years. Erecting mobile toilets will be an ideal solution>
Are the hotel owners and others concerned with tourism killing the hen which is laying the golden egg for themby releasing the sewage water in the drain?
The urgent need is to draw and effective short-term long term plan to clean up Colva and the mess created by several alien forces and our own Goenkars.
Amidst all the dark clouds in Colva there was a silvery lining. I found a niz Goenkar Menino from First Ward who still works with his pair of Oxen. Menino, who grew up and worked in Colva was once a central figure in the Colva economy but not anymore with modernization.
Menino life has revolved around his oxen’s and bull cart and he took no interest beyond that. The tourism bug did not get to him. That is the reason, till today he drives everyday from Colva and Margao on his bull cart and the thought of giving on his profession is a painful one for him.
It is high time the villagers’ honour him for the services rendered before it is too late, the last remaining Gadekar (bull cart puller) from Colva is ready to sound the bugle.
The bugle has been regularly been sounded by activists like Arwin Mesquita, Judith Almeida on pollution, mega projects, environmental issues in Colva but their voices have been drowned in the din. Will we able to filter out and put the politicians in the back ground and find solutions in the election year, is a greater issue. Politicians will continue to divide us; a clarion call for unity and to throw the corrupt and time-tested politicians faces a hurdle.
Ask Arwin and Judith and they will tell you, what it is to be a Colvekar or a Goenkar and take up issues concerning the big and mighty politicians. You are ridiculed and accusations fly all around you. You must be thick skinned and ready stand it all.
So if you are someone who wants to create your own political base and fathoms your change to be the August house riding piggy back on the newspaper paper’s crusade against a system, then you must be ready to taste the good, bad, ugly and corrupt ways.