News from Tourism Concern
PRESS RELEASE: End water injustice in Goa tourism
Posted: Jun 20, 2012
Tourism Concern and community groups in Goa are calling for an end to water injustice resulting from poorly regulated tourism in the southern Indian state.
Tourism Concern, the Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP) and Eco Footprints are demanding urgent action by the Goan government to address the overexploitation of Goa's water resources by growing numbers of resorts and hotels. Water access and quality for many communities are being undermined, while untreated sewage and dumped waste is contaminating waterways and polluting the fragile marine environment. This is jeopardising the sustainability of the tourism sector itself, upon which Goa's economy heavily depends.
"Goa is popular with UK tourists and many major tour operators and hotel groups operate there. However, most visitors don't realise the environmental devastation and water inequity being wrought by weak regulations and bad practices by the tourism sector. We're asking people to back our campaign for change by signing our online petition," states Mark Watson, Executive Director of Tourism Concern. View petition here
New research by Tourism Concern and CSJP indicates that water for the luxury tourism sector is being prioritised over domestic and small-scale livelihood needs. For example, residents in the popular resort town of Calangute receive piped water for just two hours every two days. However, traditional community wells are becoming unusable due to pollution and over-extraction, forcing a growing dependency on inadequate public supplies and infrastructure. Meanwhile, nearby resorts boasting swimming pools and golf courses enjoy a continuous water supply. One 5-star hotel in Benaulim consumes up to 1,785 litres of water per guest per day, compared to just 14 litres per day by a neighbouring villagers.
"The Government of Goa must respond to this critical issue and implement the recommendations of our report, Reclaiming Water Rights – Towards an Equitable Social Contract in Goa. We urge them to instigate a clear regulatory framework for water and tourism management, implement existing laws and improve infrastructure to ensure community water rights don't come second to major resort developments", says Watson.
The report also calls on the international tourism sector to take responsibility for the impacts of their activities on community water access. "Hotels and tour operators must engage in efforts to tackle this issue locally. Water conservation measures within hotels are not enough," states Watson.
Community Voices from Goa
"The wells here have been contaminated for 10 years. The contamination has been partly caused by soak pits from tourism. Dirty water leaches into the ground. The soak pits are illegal. In the hot dry season – March, April, May – we get water for 20-30 minutes a day.... Many people depend on tankers. Local people sometimes feel angry, but they recognise the benefits that tourism can bring. But it is we ordinary people who are suffering. We are drinking this water, they are not. Some can afford to buy water, some cannot."
Female guesthouse owner, Calangute
"The hotels all have lush lawns and borewells. There is contamination of groundwater and huge consumption of water by hotels lowers the water table. Wells in the neighbouring village have already become saline and unfit for human consumption... Virtually the entire coastal area is sold out to developers, who often build within the high tide zone. These hotels don't benefit us in any way. There are frequent power cuts and water scarcity to the locals as the same [water] has been diverted to the hotels."
Sheela Gracias - legal advocate and social activist
"We need a solution to this issue. Lots of hotels and other industries are dumping sewage and waste in the rivers. The lack of waste management is Goa-wide. Plastics thrown into the river are washed out to sea and then wash up on the sea shore... The government only wants a certain kind of tourism: high end tourism and big planned resorts. Small scale developments are not wanted. The 5-star lobby, they rule Goa."
President of Shack Owners Welfare Society
"I have a well, but the water level is going down. When they build these new developments they dig a borewell with a pump. My well water has significantly declined. I'm now running dry by February... There's so much environmental destruction and garbage, and lack of proper sewage treatment... We are not anti-development; we want development that protects our livelihoods."
Geraldine Fernandes, guesthouse owner, Benaulim
"All these hotels get a good supply of water. They can afford to buy from the tankers. There are no regulations for these. I don't know where this water comes from. We only get water every second day from the public supply [i.e. piped tap water], and this is only for a couple of hours. This is hardly enough. Luckily I'm still OK as I have my well and the water is still OK. But the water level is depleting; the level doesn't come up as high as it used to."
Donna, retired teacher, Calangute
Notes for Editors
- Tourism Concern is an independent UK-based NGO challenging exploitative forms of tourism and promoting more ethical alternatives.
- Reclaiming Water Rights – Towards an Equitable Social Contract in Goa was commissioned by Tourism Concern under our Water Equity in Tourism programme (WET) and researched and produced by the Council for Social Justice and Peace, Goa. The report can be downloaded at: http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/uploads/Campaigns/projectwater2.pdf (please note the report is 20mb so make take several minutes to download).
- The Council for Social Justice and Peace is part of the Archdiocese of Goa. It aims to protect, promote and campaign for peace through restoration of justice wherever and whenever denied. http://www.csjpgoa.org
- Eco Footprints is a newly formed non-governmental organisation in Goa. Its founder, Anabel da Gama, was the lead researcher and author of Reclaiming Water Rights.
- The Goa findings feature as a case study in our forthcoming WET campaign report, Water Equity in Tourism: A Human Right, A Global Responsibility, to be launched on 9th May at Portcullis House, For further information on launch, contact Rachel@tourismconcern.org.uk.
- Please direct any enquires to Rachel Noble at Rachel@tourismconcern.org.uk or on +44(0) 207 133 3800.
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