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Maharashtra govt plans shacks like Goa’s on 720km coast



MUMBAI: The state government has come up with a beach shack policy to promote the 720km coastline as a tourist destination. Under it, tourists can enjoy seafood and liquor on the beaches, on the lines of those in Goa. But, hukkah will not be allowed.

The government was earlier skeptical about allowing liquor on beaches as part of the policy, but it finally agreed to it with permission from the excise department. “Restricting liquor at tourist spots like beaches will lead to encouraging the illegal supply of liquor, or shacks may fail to be an attraction for tourists,” a senior official said.

The policy mentions safety measures, like the government will set up an enforcement cell or flying squads. Designated officers will have powers to demolish illegal shacks and recommend imposition of penalties, including cancellation of licence and compulsory installation of a CCTV surveillance system. Also, no foreigner will be permitted to work in the shacks even though they may have a work visa.

Beach shack applicants must not be involved in illegal activities, including trafficking in drugs, immoral activities or paedophilia, and the applicant will have to report any such cases to police or MTDC officials, the policy stated.

The shacks will operate from 7am-11.30pm and there will be restrictions on the volume of music, according to the policy. No loud music must be played beyond 10pm. and the music played should be heard only within the shack and should not disturb occupants of surrounding shacks. Any music system comprising speakers and amplifiers beyond the permissible limits will be confiscated, it added.

The shacks will operate during nine months of the year, from September to May, excluding the monsoon. The beaches and number of shacks will be announced once the policy is okayed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Minister of state for tourism Madan Yerawar said the government will take care of security measures. “We are coordinating with other departments, including local bodies and the home department. We are sure the policy will help increase tourists visiting beaches and subsequently boost tourism in Maharashtra,” said Yerawar.

Bhau Katdare, president of the Chiplun-based Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra NGO, which works on environmental issues, said the people of Konkan will oppose the plan to start beach shacks and provide liquor on beaches. “The government must coordinate with locals to conserve the environment of Konkan. It can promote tourism, instead of allowing liquor on beaches. Velas Gram Panchayat, which has banned liquor on the village beach, will oppose the idea,” said Katdare.

“Mumbai beaches are very unclean. Has the government thought about the huge amount of garbage which will be generated after the increase in tourists? Mumbai’s beaches are frequented by middle class families. How safe will these be, especially for women with kids, considering the large number of unemployed youths in the city. Why are we not keeping the beaches safe and clean to attract tourists?” said Chitra Sampada Ramesh, programme manager, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The state government has uploaded a draft of the policy on the state tourism department website for suggestions and objections till November 5.

What is a beach shack? | It is a temporary shed-like tent where you can get food, beverages and liquor. It has basic amenities like a toilet, furniture, fire cover and first-aid box

Key points of the policy

* Beach shacks can be erected will eco-friendly material like bamboos/wooden poles with thatched palm leaves and bamboo mat roofing

* In case of paucity of wood, modern materials like synthetic, steel, nylon fabric can be used for its framework due to unpredictable weather

* Use of concrete material is banned

* The beach shack allottee must make provisions for fire cover/first-aid and must contact the fire service office for guidelines

* A portable toilet with inbuilt proper sewage collection and disposal is mandatory. The waste must not be let out on the beach

– The allottee must not discriminate about entry for any person based on nationality, sex, caste or religion. The allotment will be cancelled if a complaint is found to be true

– No-smoking and no-spitting boards stating ‘Say not to tobacco’ and ‘Yes to Life’ have to be displayed within the shack

– If any psychotropic/narcotic substances are found in the shack, the allottee will be debarred for life from applying for a beach shack

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