Mechanised cleaning of Goa’s Beaches

Goa’s world renowned beaches that attract millions of tourists from around the world will now be cleaned by machines, according to a statement by Tourism minister Dileep Parulekar. 

Once considered pristine, Goa’s beaches are now filled with litter and hence massive mechanised cleaning machines will be put into service to clean Goa’s beaches. The advantages are huge – these specially designed machines are able to clean the beaches faster and more thoroughly than manual cleaning. These machines are not only able to clean larger rubbish such as plastic bags but are also able to suck in smaller pieces of garbage such as cigarette butts. 

While there are many advantages of such cleaning machines, environmentalists fear that the mechanised cleaning of Goa’s beaches could harm the animal life in the sand. Goa’s beaches are home to hordes of tiny sand crabs, which live in the porous sand pockets and environmentalists fear that these crabs that run about on the beach could also be picked up by these large machines. 

Another side effect of these beach cleaning machines is the loss of livelihood for the hundreds of manual beach cleaners who have been employed in the past. Unfortunately, neither the local newspapers nor the Tourism Minister has focussed on this aspect. Often, these beach cleaning personnel are the only breadwinners in the family and this sudden loss of income will definitely have a negative aspect on their ability to survive. It is a shame that in a country of over one billion, India and Goa have to resort to machines replacing people. While the concept of replacing people with machines has been popular in the west where labour is expensive, replacing people with machines seems rather absurd in India and Goa where there is an excess of cheap labour. 

The use of machines to clean up Goa’s beaches also goes to show that the tourists who come to Goa are not conscious enough of their surroundings to take their garbage with them. After smoking their cigarettes, tourists simply stub them out in the sand and leave them there. The same problem is with plastic chip packets and tetra pack juice packets. It is common to see vendors selling throwaway packets of chips and juice at the entrace to the Calangute / Baga beach. The tourists that purchase these packets simply throw them in the sand when they are empty.

While it is admirable that the Goa Tourism Department is making an effort to clean up Goa’s beaches, a concerted effort is required to educate tourists about the importance of not littering and keeping Goa’s beaches clean. Another effective measure is definitely the introducing of more garbage bins on the beach. The last time I walked along the Calangute – Baga beach stretch, I couldn’t find a single garbage bin in which to throw my rubbish.

The most popular beach-belt in Goa, which stretches from Baga beach to Sinquerim beach, is likely to be the first Goan beach where these machines will be tested followed by the Benaulim beach to Utorda beach stretch in South Goa. 

What do you think of the idea of using machines to clean Goa’s beaches ? Do let me know in the comments…

Photo Credit: http://media.mlive.com/baycitytimes/photo/2009/06/beach-cleanup-d1fdb6717509f23e.jpg

Adventure Tourism in Goa: Are you ready?

This blog post might not be for the faint of heart!
After relying successfully on promoting its beaches, Goa is now trying to expand its tourism portfolio to other kinds of tourism including heritage tourism and now adventure tourism. The Goa Tourism Department has now turned to adventure sports like hang-gliding, white water rafting and hot air ballooning to attract the more active minded tourists to Goa. 
“Adventure tourism is an emerging trend across the country. We are trying it to diversify our tourism portfolio,” says Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar. As Mr Parulekar rightly notes, adventure tourism is a huge emerging trend, not only in India but all across the world. While people today spend more and more time sitting at their desks in front of a computer or screen, they are looking to be a bit more active and adventurous when they are on holiday. “We are now considering other adventure sports as well, such as hot air ballooning and setting up a hang-glider base,” Parulekar said.

And for those who find hand gliding or wind surfing too strenuous, there is also a plan to combine adventure tourism and Heritage tourism by offering a ride in a hot air balloon that would provide a birds-eye view of the historic old Goa church complex (a UNESCO Heritage Zone) as well as Fontainhas, the Latin quarter of Panjim. 

So if you do find yourselves in a hot air balloon over my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay in Fontainhas, don’t forget to wave !