Rampant illegal construction along Goa’s coastline could hit tourism: Study


Goa’s two coastal sub districts, Bardez and Pernem, both powerhouses of beach tourism in the state, are battling rampant illegal construction along the coastline, even in no-development zones, which may bode ill for the state’s tourism industry, a study has revealed.

The study conducted by the Geography department of Government College Khandola, states that violations in sensitive coastal areas would lead to concretisation of the state’s sea-fronted areas, damaging tourism as well as the scenic beauty, which is the tourist state’s calling card.

“The study on the coastline of beaches of North Goa depicts great violation in terms of the recent Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). In the name of boosting tourism, the CRZ will be highly violated wherein the public land will be captured by the stakeholders. The No Development Zone (NDZ) in the coastal areas will go under construction,” the study states.

“Tourists visit Goa for its beauty and open space where land meets the sea. If these spaces are taken over, tourism industry which survives on natural beauty will be at stake as beaches will be already crowded. Neither tourists, nor locals will have proper access to the beaches. The scenic beauty of the beaches will be lost,” it adds.

The study which is based on Google Earth imagery which was used to track development activity in the CRZ and NDZ areas in Pernem and Bardez, states that built-up areas in both the environmentally sensitive zones have increased significantly since 1991, when the Coastal Regulation Zone norms were introduced.

“The built-up has increased from 19.6 percent to 40.3 percent, from 1991 to 2019 within the 500 mts (CRZ) buffer. The built-up has increased from 15.12 percent to 36.79 percent within the 200 mts (NDZ) buffer from 2012 to 2019. This includes permanent residential houses, resorts and temporary shacks,” the study carried out by Lisha Fernandes, Dr Pravina Kerkar, Siddhi Gaonkar of the government college states in its analysis of developments in coastal Pernem sub district areas.

While Pernem in North Goa is home to popular beaches like Mandrem, Morjim and Arambol, which are favoured hubs of Russian tourists, the beaches of Bardez sub district, also in North Goa, comprise of popular sandy stretches in beach villages of Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator.

The study also states that if the proposed amendments to the CRZ law in 2018 are applied in Goa “which shrinks the no development zone from 200 to 50 metres from the high tide line” it would further harm the coastal ecosystem and therefore impact tourism.

“By reducing the coastline to 50 mts for more commercial activities, it has put at risk the ecology and communities vulnerable to extreme weather events, coastal flooding and sea level rise,” it says.