By Lipi Mehta:
1) Goa is the second most dangerous place for foreign tourists in the country, after Delhi. In fact, the UK Government’s foreign travel guidelines instruct tourists to be cautious in Goa and mention that British women have been sexually assaulted there. There’s news from other countries as well. And it doesn’t help at all when you file a complaint and the Goa police shames you instead of taking action.
2) Thousands of women and children are trafficked to Goa every year and are sexually exploited or forced into labour. Over 5,000 women and children were rescued from “various forms of modern-day slavery” in Goa in the first 10 months of 2015, according to Home Ministry data. And if you still find these facts difficult to believe, you would do well to watch this film.
3) For one of India’s largest tourist destinations, Goa’s public transport mechanism is in shambles. Buses themselves are overcrowded and most rickshaws and taxis don’t have meters. On April 11, 2016, nearly 15,000 taxi drivers went on strike to voice their concerns and protect their business against rent-a-cab vehicles and around 7,000 bikes being illegally rented! The taxi drivers themselves are often called the ‘taxi mafia’, as they charge exorbitant rates, don’t allow other players to enter the market and, thus, leave no choice for customers.
4) A massive ‘garbage mountain’ in Sonsodo, about seven kilometres from Margoa, holds 40 years of accumulated waste! According to this report, over the past 3 years, new waste has been segregated and treated but nothing has been done about four decades of garbage!
5) Cases of illegal mining amounting to a whopping Rs. 35,000 crore were uncovered in 2012 by the Justice M. B. Shah Committee report, post which mining was banned in the state till 2014. State government officials were also indicted in the matter. After facing a loss of Rs. 5,000 crore due to this ban, the state expects to make a profit of Rs. 300-400 crore from mining this year.
6) Goa’s carnival last year imposed a strict dress code to “check obscenity”. This is shocking since it is supposed to be a liberating space, where multiple identities and sexualities are celebrated, and not subjected to moral policing.
7) CM Laxmikant Parsekar actually considered lifting the ban on bullfighting in the state to attract more tourists. In his words, “Just imagine the amount of revenue the sport can generate if it is undertaken formally.” Last heard in May 2016, the Government said it wouldn’t lift the ban, after strong opposition by animal protection groups.
8) There is a growing substance abuse problem with youngsters in Goa, with even school children doing drugs, as per a report by Kripa Foundation, an NGO working on de-addiction. The case of two youngsters (aged 26 and 27) dying of a suspected drug overdose had shocked the entire state though police response was “lethargic”, according to a local MLA.
9) After Goa was liberated from the Portuguese, there were a series of agitations about Konkani being the official language of the state versus Marathi. In 1986-87, in an 18-month long agitation, eight people lost their lives in the violence and the state was gripped with tension. In February 1987, the government passed a bill and proclaimed Konkani as the state’s official language. However, Marathi is again finding its way back into schools, and that has led to a renewed controversy.
10) Lastly, politicians in Goa have made some ridiculous remarks about serious issues, and we hope this stops! Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said the government was thinking about starting centres to make LGBT youths ‘normal’ (he later said he was misquoted); Minister Dilip Parulekar called five men accused of rape ‘naive’ and said these were ‘small crimes’; and CM Laxmikant Parsekar said that persons with disabilities were born due to a ‘mistake’ and ‘negligence’ by God.
Featured image source: Flickr.