Tourist hotspot Goa recently proposed a new draft 'State Shack Policy 2023-2026.' Under the draft policy, the state government proposes to offer licences to set up temporary shacks, deck beds, umbrellas, etc, along the beach areas for three tourist seasons.
However, the draft policy has also drawn criticism from various shack owners.
Here's what you need to know about Goa's new shack policy.
Where and when can shacks be set up?
As per the draft policy, shacks can be set up on the beachfront from 1 September to 31 May, that is during the peak tourist season. But, the shacks will have to be mandatorily dismantled by 10 June.
How many shacks can be set up and where?
The draft policy proposes to allow over 259 shacks on the stretches of beaches in north Goa and 105 shacks are allowed to be set up in south Goa, reported The Indian Express.
However, no beach shacks will be allowed to be set up at south Goa’s Keri beach for the 2023-24 season, due to the ongoing work of the state's Water Resources Department.
Moreover, only one shack is permitted per family.
Who all can set up a shack?
To set up a shack in Goa, you need to be:
A Goan domicile and unemployed, which means that the applicant cannot have any employment or pension, and they should not be directly or indirectly engaged in any business or a vocation.
The government had also introduced an age bracket (18 to 60 years) for the applicants. However, the clause was removed after it received pushback from the Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society. Earlier, there was no age bracket to put in an application for setting up a shack.
Under the new policy, 90 percent of the licences will be allotted to people with at least one year of experience, while the rest 10 percent of licences will be given to new applicants.
What else does the policy say?
You can't sublet your shack, as per the draft policy. The state government has increased the penalty for subletting a shack from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
If a toilet in a shack is found to be “unhygienic”, a fine of Rs 10,000 will be levied, reported The Indian Express. Owners also need to keep the surroundings of the shacks clean.
Notably, you need to mandatorily serve Goan cuisine in your shack.
How are licences currently allotted to shack owners?
So far, over 90 percent of licences are being given to applicants with three years of experience. But, the new draft policy offers a relaxation of two years in this regard.
How do Goa's shack owners feel about the newly proposed draft policy?
On the proposed rule for owners to be unemployed in order to set up a shack, Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society secretary John Lobo told The Indian Express, "The cost of putting up a shack is at least Rs 15 lakh and can go up to Rs 1 crore. How will an unemployed person come up with this sum? This is the reason shacks are often sublet to people from other states. The government should ideally provide a subsidy or come up with a loan scheme."
"An ideal policy would be to allot licences for longer than three years. If a shack owner has invested a large sum of money, what if they do not get a licence in the next draw after three years? They will be forced to shut shop," he added.
Moreover, Lobo alleged that the policy doesn’t define what is meant by clean. "These things are kept arbitrary, so the department can conduct surprise inspections and collect fines by claiming that something in the shack is filthy,” he was quoted as saying.
Alleging delay from the government, Cruz said, “September is about to end and the process is yet to begin. The draft of the policy was only shared with us last week and certain aspects are still being discussed. After the scrutiny of applications and issuing of licenses, we have to obtain permissions from several departments. It takes about 15 days to put up a shack. The process of demarcation also requires 8-10 days. We are running about two months late."
"The government is claiming that the experience criteria have been relaxed to help new entrants in the business. But it will be difficult for a newcomer to operate a shack. The shack business requires a certain expertise and know-how," he added.
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)