If you are already making post-COVID-19 vacation plans for your December party, and can’t think further than Goa, here is #somegoodnews to cheer you up. Sea beaches dotting Maharashtra's long coastline would soon boast of temporary shacks similar to Goa and other international seaside destinations as the state government has given a nod to the erection of temporary seasonal beach shacks, popularly known as the ‘beach shack’ policy.
Gawade further added that the shacks will be set-up for a period of three years; the business for the first year will start from September 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021. “Maharashtra has a 720 km long coastline and there are 70-72 beaches that can be developed under this policy,” he said. The shacks will be operational between 7 AM and 7 PM with stringent rules on sustainable business practices, including use of environmentally sustainable material for construction and service.
Aseem Hattangadi, Mumbai-based travel specialist and founder of The Travel Therapist believes, “It's a good idea that the Maharashtra Government is going ahead and allowing shacks on a few select beaches in the state. The most important outcome of this move will be the fact that it will generate employment for locals.” Upto 80% of the jobs created due to the initiative have to go to locals in the area. Gawade assures that local ecology will also not be disturbed, “These are guidelines specified by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority that will have to be followed.”
A pilot project on Varsoli beach was conducted by research agency KPMG where the basic infrastructure built by the Gram Panchayat will be strengthened under the Maharashtra beach shack policy. Commenting on the initiative, Priya Pathiyan, lifestyle and travel writer, who also conducts travel tours in Mumbai said, “Varsoli beach in Alibag is one of my favourite among the lesser known beaches of Maharashtra and I feel reassured that the increased infrastructure will enhance the experience, and not take away from it.”
The aim of the beach shack policy, according to Gawade, is to act as a catalyst for the comprehensive development of beach tourism along the coast of Maharashtra in a sustainable and integrated manner so as to bring equitable development for the local communities. “At a time when the tourist sector has been devastated by COVID-19, it's laudable that Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation is acting proactively and investing so positively in the future,” adds Pathiyan.
Speaking about social distancing being the need of the hour to help control the spread of coronavirus menace, Hattangadi expresses,” Crowd control will have to be maintained by the local police patrolling the area, since this could also give rise to thieves and pickpockets.”
But the overall prognosis of the beach shack policy for Maharashtra is a positive one. As Hattangadi points out, “It may also lead to a reduction of crowds populating the beaches in Goa and the issue of over tourism.”
Well, will we be able to do justice and preserve the pristine and untouched beauty of Maharashtra’s Konkan coast, only time will tell.
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