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Colva beach looks for a change in tide

Story: GUILHERME | ALMEIDA | 13th September 2017, 06:21 Hrs

Stakeholders are bracing for a new tourism season, while a new government is in place and a new minister presiding over the Tourism portfolio. But, does all this offer any hope for the world famous Colva beach, craving for attention for long now?
Lying in a state of neglect for want of government help and support, Colva beach is indeed looking for a booster dose to overcome the mess and restore the beach to its pristine glory. A visit to the beach revealed a not too rosy picture - stray dogs loitering around the beach belt; laamanis playing hide and seek with the police; water from the contaminated creek flowing on the beach; children's park in shambles; tourists taking shelter of fishing boats for want of changing rooms; no toilets et al.
Successive governments and the Tourism ministers have only paid lip service to Colva, with the beach not playing host to a single changing room or a eco-toilet on the beach. Either the tourists, including woman visitors, take shelter of the fishing boats on the beach for changing clothes, or walk to the nearby Sulabh toilet block on the beach square.
The children's park lies in shambles. Broken benches, damaged slides and swings greet visitors to the children's park for want of upkeep and maintenance. Take note, the children's park has been lying in this state of affairs for years now, with no development or beautification plan forthcoming from the department or through the CSR model.
While LED lamps illuminate the road leading to the beach square, the high mast lamps installed on the beach have been lying defunct for years now. That laamanis and police play hide and seek game has been further aggravated for want of lady police constables with the department.
The biggest problem staring at the Tourism department and the local Colva village panchayat is the stray dog menace. Locals say the number of strays have registered a rise with none of the authorities putting in place any plan to tackle the menace.
New Colva Sarpanch Anthony alias Mam Fernandes said the new panchayat body has already dashed off a letter to the Tourism department to put basic amenities in place. A letter has also gone to the Water Resources department to desilt and beautify the contaminated creek, he said.
On CCTV cameras, the Sarpanch pointed out that the panchayat has proposed to the government to bring the beach square and other areas under the CCTV cameras.
Social activist Judith Almeida said that whatever the government plans to do at Colva beach should not only be sustainable but eco-friendly. "We have been asking the government to install changing rooms and eco-toilets at Colva beach, but in vain. The Colva creek lies in a state of total neglect. We have asked the High Court to issue direction to the government for the expeditious completion of the sewage treatment plant and sewerage connections to put an end to rampant discharge of sewage water into the creek," Judith added.

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