Panaji, May 11 (IANS) Encroachments, rapid erosion, garbage and over-exploitation had cast a dark shadow over the future of Baga beach, one of Goa’s best known and visited by thousands. With the state government finally sanctioning a multi-crore restoration and revitalisation plan, and promising to implement it in six months, it will go a long way in enhancing local infrastructure for tourism on which the state economy so much depends.
According to Gavin Dias, deputy general manager at the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), revival of the Baga beach was a part of a holistic plan involving lighting, toilets, changing rooms and traffic management, apart from revitalising the beach and arresting the erosion of sand, which has caused grave concern among the authorities here.
“The main step is to decongest the entire area and to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and proper amenities like lighting, toilets, changing rooms and the like. Baga, Calangute and Candolim are the busiest tourist attractions and are the most visited tourist spots with heavily crowded beaches,” Dias told IANS.
Revitalisation of Baga, he said, would take around six months and was being executed with central and state funding. An estimated Rs 90 million has been sanctioned for the project.
“These beaches needed special attention in terms of more facilities and tourist attractions. A need was felt to develop the surrounding area with proper and better accesses, beautifications of the area in order to boost tourism in the state,” Dias said.
The contiguous sand stretch from Baga beach to Sinquerim is the most popular beach belt in the whole of Goa and is often referred to as the proverbial “golden goose” for Goa tourism with hundreds and thousands of tourists flocking to this area annually, both for a dip in the warm sea and soaking in the throbbing nightlife which the region offers.
However, overexploitation of the beach stretch has resulted in the area succumbing to the ravages of garbage, congestion and pollution, to name just a few. This is something which the Goa Tourism authorities appear to have woken up to now, even as newer beaches like Arambol and Palolem have started weaning away tourists from Calangute and Baga.
The revitalisation roadmap also involves landscaping of the area surrounding Baga, especially the once-picturesque Baga creek that empties into the sea. The confluence where the creek meets the sea is also a major erosion-affected area. And a plan is being drawn up to stop the sandbank from being washed into the sea.
“Erosion indeed is a major issue affecting this area and, for that matter, the entire coastline of the state. We will ask the GTDC project cell to come out with some long- lasting technical solutions for these problems and implement them as soon as the procedural formalities are completed,” Dias said.
Implementation of a pay parking system near the beach area and creation of additional parking areas will also ensure smooth travel to and from the beach for the tourists and locals.
“This will enhance the capacity of the place to handle a large volume of tourists,” Dias said.
Goa’s mild winter sun from October to March attracts over 2.6 million tourists annually, nearly half a million of whom are foreigners.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])