The unprecedented high tides due to cyclone Ockhi that flooded hundreds of beach shacks in Goa has given rise to a demand from the tourism industry for a re-think by the state authorities on the places for allocation of the beach shacks along the coast.
The shack owners say that they had asked the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) to allocate the shack much above the high tide line, but citing environmental concerns, they were allotted spots right next to the water.
President of Shack Owners Welfare Society Cruz Cardozo said that tonight could be a trying time as the state will witness the highest tide coupled with full moon along with the affect of cyclone Ockhi.
"The shack owners had specifically requested the GCZMA not to allot the shacks near the high tide line but a little upwards. But fearing the destruction of sand dunes, the authorities alloted us structures right next to the water," Cardozo said.
This despite, he said, the owners specifically mentioning that they would not harm the sand dunes since the structures are elevated on a platform.
"Had the shacks been little upwards, the devastation caused could have been avoided to a great extent. Almost 80 percent of the shacks have been affected by the tide," he said.
He said that the owners would make a representation to the government after assessing the losses.
The beaches of Mobor, Majorda, Cavelossim, Benaulim in South Goa and Arambol, Morjim, Baga, Calangute in North are worst affected, he said.
The states premier trade body Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has also echoed the views of the shack owners.
"There is need to rethink on the allocation of the shacks. It should be based on scientific advice," TTAG President Savio Messiah said.
He said that the allocation should "not be uniform" but on "case-to-case basis with the help of scientific data on the water level".
He however ruled out that the current situation on the beaches would adversely affect the tourism trade.
"There will not be an impact on the tourism as such but the tourists running away from the shacks as water rises unexpectedly portrays a wrong picture," Messiah said.
In a statement, state tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said that chief minister Manohar Parrikar has agreed to depute a competent government authority to assess the damage caused to shack and other properties due to the storm.
State tourism director Menino D'Souza said that since it was a natural disaster, the state government would assess the damage caused.
"It may be done by the tourism department or any other concerned authority," he said adding that the present situation was temporary phase and wouldn't impact tourism.
Goa is currently witnessing peak tourist season which would culminate in December when lakhs of people will descend here to usher in the New Year festivities.