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Tourism impacting Goa's environment: Study

Large-scale growth of tourism is leading to increased pressure "on both society and the environment.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 10:41 IST

Goa's unbridled tourism is having an adverse impact on the state's environment and society, says a study sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Undertaken by the Goa Institute of Management in Panaji, the study says the large-scale growth of tourism is leading to increased pressure "on both society and the environment".

"Preserving the national heritage and reducing environmental degradation have become crucial issues for concern. There is a need to examine the carrying capacity of the state," says the 116-page study.

The research analyses Goa's agriculture, mining, growing pharma sector, small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and controversial plans for promoting special economic zones (SEZs).

It notes that Goa's economy is "confronted" by a solid waste management problem and that it desperately needs an efficient public transport system.

"Enough effort has not been made to ensure proper solid waste management. Again, absence of efficient public transport has increased the growth of motorbikes and cars substantially. This in turn has aggravated environmental pollution."

It also points to the migration of unskilled labour from neighbouring states "on account of the non-availability of unskilled workers" in Goa.

Other issues it emphasises include disputes over land use between small entrepreneurs and large corporates, dependence on other states for agricultural produce consumed in Goa, failure to ensure uninterrupted power and the need for improving the quality and quantity of water supply.

The research says that a "strong positive co-relation" does not seem to exist between tourism growth and employment of locals, especially in the hotel industry. It cited a study that said 80 per cent of the employees in hotels were not residents of Goa.

"This can be partly on account of high wage rates prevailing in Goa as compared to other under-developed states and therefore managers prefer to hire workers from other states," says the study.

It highlights that private transport in Goa is highly expensive "in the absence of adequate public transport" and taxi operators were working in "monopoly power".

"Growth of tourism might have also adversely affected the poor and downtrodden, especially during peak season when prices usually go up. A proper assessment needs to be done," the study states.

It blames the tourism sector for becoming a "breeding ground of touts and commission agents", which hikes up hotel tariffs and transport costs. There is also an absence of a proper regulatory mechanism to check the price rise.

"Wide disparity in prices charged during the peak and off-peak season for various services and between the private and public authority needs to be examined. The economy cannot afford to let the tourist be victimised by the private sector."

The study notes that Goa lacks budget hotels. Goa's tourism department provides "around 600 beds per day at an affordable price" but this is insufficient, especially during peak season.

It also points a finger at the state government, which it says has played a limited role in promoting tourism.

According to the researchers, the government has not participated actively in promoting tourism apart from officially representing the state at a few fairs abroad.