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Business News/ News / What Goa's new beach shack policy entails, and why it has drawn criticism
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What Goa's new beach shack policy entails, and why it has drawn criticism

As per the policy, a total of 364 shacks have been permitted along the state's coastline, including 259 in North Goa and 105 in South Goa.

Tourist season in Goa begins from September 1Premium
Tourist season in Goa begins from September 1

‘Goa State Shack Policy 2023-2026’, a set of framework to regulate the setting up and allotment of beach shacks, deck beds and umbrellas along beach stretches for the next three years, has been approved by the state government. 

The new policy states that the government would allot licences to operate beach shacks for three tourist seasons – stretching roughly from September 1 to May 31 each year. By June 10, the temporary structures would have to be mandatorily destroyed. The licences would be issued only to unemployed persons holding Goan domicile.

As per the policy, a total of 364 shacks have been permitted along the coastline of Goa, including 259 in North Goa and 105 in South Goa. 

The policy, however, has drawn criticism from the existing stakeholders over a number of its clauses.

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The three-year licence period has been severely objected by the shack owners' associations, who point out that the setup requires a massive amount of investment. The business could turn out to be unviable if there is no surety that they would be allowed to run the shacks after their licence expires. 

“The cost of putting up a shack is at least 15 lakh and can go up to 1 crore…If a shack owner has invested a large sum of money, what if they do not get a licence in the next draw after three years?" The Indian Express quoted John Lobo, secretary, Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society, as saying.

Another faultline in the policy, claim critics, is the clause stating that the applicant should be unemployed, must not be drawing pension and should not be directly or indirectly involved in another business.

Considering that the cost of setting up a shack could be to the tune of several lakhs to up to 1 crore, it is practically not possible for an unemployed person to invest such a large amount of capital, they point out.

One of the most contentious clauses, which was included in the draft document but chalked out from the policy that has now been approved, was an age cap of 60 years on the applicants. This had irked a significant section of shack owners, who alleged a ploy to replace the existing operators with “outsiders". 

The state government, while removing the clause, had firmly rejected the allegations of attempting to bring in outsiders. It had claimed that the age cap was intended to weed out the practice of subletting the shacks.

As per the policy, subletting of the shacks will draw a fine of 25 lakh, which is 150 percent higher than the existing fine of 10 lakh. A penalty of 10,000 has also been mandated if the toilets attached with the shacks are found to be “unhygienic". 

According to Lobo, there is ambiguity in some of the guidelines, as the shack allottees have been asked to maintain the surroundings clean, but what is exactly meant by “clean" is not clearly defined. This may allow officials to conduct surprise checks and levy fines if they conclude that the shack is filthy, he told the newspaper.

The government's decision to relax the eligibility criteria, in terms of experience, has also received flak. Earlier, 90 percent of the shacks were allotted to applicants with at least three years of experience in operating shacks and 10 percent to those with no prior experience. However, the new policy allows the allocation of 90 percent of licences to those with at least one year of experience, and the remaining to those with nil experience.

The shack operating business requires some expertise and specific know-hows, which will make it difficult for newcomers or those with insufficient experience to effectively run the shacks, pointed out Cruz Cardozo, president of Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society, while speaking to a publication.

The delay in the policy's implementation is also a subject of concern for the stakeholders, as the September month, which marks the start of the tourist season, is about to get over. Under routine circumstances, the tourism department issues licences one or two months ahead of the tourist season's start.

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Updated: 27 Sep 2023, 10:17 PM IST
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