Take your garbage home, Goa village tells tourists

A Goa beach village now wants tourists to carry back the garbage they generate while having a ball on the beach.

Betalbatim, a southern village 40 km from Panaji, this week passed a resolution saying tourists who picnic or party on its beach would be given plastic bags to stuff their garbage in and take back.

"The gram sabha (village assembly) has resolved that garbage generated by tourists should be taken back," village head Esperance Fernandes said over telephone.

Goa's overcrowded beaches and countryside have seen garbage piling up, with the state failing to put in place an effective garbage disposal mechanism.

Beer bottles, empty tetra packs and potato wafer packets are ubiquitous. Assorted dry waste litters the beach, left behind by irresponsible tourists and locals.

Neither the coastal village panchayats nor the tourism department is equipped to safely dispose of the garbage collected by sweepers.

Esperance Fernandes believes that the move by the village panchayat would help minimise the filth on the beach as well as set an example for other coastal village panchayats.

"We will be employing labourers on the beach to help picnickers and beach-goers collect the garbage they generate and pack it in plastic bags. The garbage collection can be taken care of, but the disposal will have to be carried out by those who visit the beach," Esperance said.

The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority.

Betalbatim village, with a resident population of nearly 4,000, is one of the quieter beaches in Goa although it is home to some of the top beach resorts as well as what some consider the mecca of Goan crab curry, Martins Corner. Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is a regular visitor here.

Garbage is one of the most contentious issues facing the tourism department along with overcrowding of its beaches.

Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said the litter on the beaches prompted his department to go in for a mechanised beach cleaning option.

"By December, when the biggest number of tourists starts to come in, we should be in a position to clean beaches with machines," Parulekar said.

Goa's beaches annually attract nearly 2.6 million tourists, of which half a million are foreigners.

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