GOA GOVERNMENT ASSESSES DAMAGES AFTER CYCLONE OCKHI DESTROYS BEACH STRUCTURES

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Panaji: A day after waves impacted by the Ockhi cyclone and the super moon swept dangerously close to Goa’s popular beach shacks, in many cases causing damage to equipment and the temporary structures, a top tourism official on Monday said the state government was in the process of assessing the damage.

The government was also considering whether the more than 300 beach shacks should, in future, be relocated to prevent damage similar to the kind caused late on Sunday by the unusual swelling up of coastal water levels, Tourism Director Menino D’Souza told IANS.

“Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has spoken to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the government will appoint a competent authority to assess the damage and loss. The government is sympathetic towards the situation and will take an appropriate decision in the interest of the shack operators,” D’Souza said.

Several dozen shacks have reportedly been affected by Sunday night’s swelling of waters along the coastline, due to the twin impact of Ockhi cyclone and the super moon.

Several videos of sea water creeping dangerously close to beach shacks and shack workers scurrying to salvage their beach beds and other sundry equipment were also uploaded to social media on Monday, triggering panic among the tourism and travel industry stakeholders.

The most damage was reported in the coastal sub-district of Pernem, where nearly 30 shacks were damaged due to the extreme natural phenomena.

D’Souza also acknowledged the damage to the shacks. “Yes, there has been an impact of the Ockhi cyclone on Goa. The rising water levels have affected shack operations along the beach belt at many places.”

“So far we have not received any formal complaints, but we have received many requests for assistance from the government and from shack operators, whose units have been affected at various sites,” he said.

Meanwhile, the North Goa district administration on Monday carried out a preliminary assessment of the damage caused in Pernem and Bardez sub-districts due to the sea ingress due to high tide levels.

In her report to the state administration, North Goa District Magistrate Nila Mohanan has recommended including asea ingress due to rise in high tide levels’ in the state list of disasters, so that compensation can be released to the affected shack owners.

“This recommendation will be duly considered by the State Disaster Management Authority, chaired by the Chief Minister and presided by the revenue minister, in its meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday),” a government spokesperson told reporters.

While swimming has been banned at Goa’s beaches, fishermen have also been asked not to venture into the sea for the next three days.

Goa is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country and beach shacks cater to the food and beverage requirements of a significant number of tourists. The state attracts nearly six million tourists every year, our of which half a million are foreign nationals.

D’Souza also said that Sunday night’s occurrence may force the state government to reconsider the locations where temporary shack permits are allotted.

“It is, however, an eye-opener not only for Goa but rest of the coastal states, to do a review of tourism trade activities close to the shoreline,” the official said.

Courtesy Firstpost

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