Next season may be a very different sight on the carefree beaches of our party state, Goa. In a new development to make Goa’s coastline tobacco free, the tourism department is planning to make all its beaches smoking-free zones by the end of October. And, they’ve decided to ban hookahs in beach shacks too. “We are starting with Miramar beach (on the outskirts of Panaji),” the state’s deputy director of tourism department Pamela Mascaren has been quoted as saying.
Delhiites who travel there to party are heartbroken. “Our law makers are hypocrites; first they sell, then they moral police. There are bigger issues that need to be dealt with in Goa. Smoking on a beach would neither pollute the air, nor choke anyone, what kind of funny laws are these,” react Delhi-based artists Manil and Rohit, who like to holiday there.
“How can they do this? Most young people go there to have fun and relax. Do they expect people to go out of the beach premises, walk for a kilometre and then light up?” says Chraru Gill, 27, an IT professional.
Neeraj Sharma, 28, says, “Everyone comes to Goa to claim back their freedom, their sense of abandonment. You can’t put them under ‘vacation limitation’. What’ll they ban next? Swimsuits?”
However, celebrities who have been spotted partying with abandon regularly there, go the safe way. Emcee Ramneek Pantal, says, “I think it’s a good step. Being one of the most popular destination for family holidays, it’s nice that kids don’t have to see it or suffer passive smoking. They can always have designated areas where people can smoke, it will also help keep the beaches clean.”
Actor Pooja Bedi says, “I’m an absolute anti-smoker. So I’m happy there’s less second hand smoke for me to be subjected to! Also, it will certainly keep the beautiful beaches clean. I hope they implement it and don’t just talk about it.”
Did bollywood provoke them?
Just before the release of Rohan Sippy’s movie, Dum Maro Dum in 2011, there were many protests from women’s groups in Goa. These were in regard to the derogatory references to Goan women in the movie. One of the trailers also labeled Goa as a place for sex and drugs, and that didn’t go down well with the tourism authorities, who warned the makers.