Nightlife yes, but hooliganism no! (Letter from Goa)
Instead of guns, police manning Goa's hottest party zones should be armed with breathalysers, tourism industry stakeholders have demanded as the state readies to crack down on alcohol-fuelled hooliganism along its beaches and curb its famed nighlife.
While Goa loves its tourists, Francisco Braganca of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) said it was also imperative that they follow the rules of the land and do not indulge in drunken driving and create a public nuisance.
"It is the need of the hour that the police should be posted at the exit point of Calangute beach, Titos's Lane and Baga beach with breath analyzers since most of the visitors are drunk and driving or riding bikes, especially between 3 p.m. and midnight," Braganca told IANS.
Both Baga beach and Tito's Lane, named after the famed mecca of Goan nightlife Club Tito's, host hundreds and thousands of tourists annually and are known for 24x7 revelry.
Braganca's comments come after the state government passed a directive earlier this week asking liquor stores and bars and pubs to down their shutters earlier than the stipulated time. The move, officials said, was intended to stop public littering and loitering under the influence of alcohol and as a general remedy to the deteriorating law and order situation in the beach-fringing areas.
The order could cripple nightlife in Goa's tourist-friendly coastal areas as it demands that stand-alone pubs and discos shut shop by 1 a.m. against 5 a.m. hitherto.
Braganca said that the order could be a case of overreach and that it needed to be reconsidered after application of thought.
"Goa is known for its nightlife. It is one of the attractions for the high-end tourists coming into Goa. We need to strike a balance and need to allow certain clubs and discos that have a certain standard to remain open late in the night," Braganca said.
"Perhaps the government, in its attempt to control dance bars, has also a prejudicial attitude towards the high-end discotheques and clubs that have a separate identity and status," he said, referring to the recent controversy which sparked after a senior BJP leader said that dance bars were "kosher".
BJP legislators themselves, especially those from the coastal belt, have reacted with displeasure against the crackdown on pubs and discos.
"It will be bad for tourism in Goa. Nightlife cannot be stopped, it should be allowed to remain open until morning," Calangute legislator Michael Lobo said, calling for better implementation of the rules against drunken hooliganism and public nuisance.
So does Braganca, who has suggested that drunken tomfoolery on the beaches could be reined in by empowering the dozens of life-guards posted there to take action against such crimes.
"The agency appointed to protect tourists from drowning and for night patrolling should also be given responsibility to implement the ban on open consumption of liquor in public places," Braganca said.
Goa annually attracts nearly 2.8 million tourists, over half a million of whom are foreigners.
(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 26-08-2013)