Myths about Marinas

By Ashwin Tombat
27 October 2019 21:08 IST

Since I last wrote in support of the marina proposed to come up at Nauxim, a number of people have come up with arguments against it. Let us deal with these one by one.

Goa is too small for a Marina: Not True. Monaco is a tiny country in Europe. It is just 3.2km long and 1.1km wide. It has marinas with 700 berths for boats. Singapore has an area of around 700 sq km. It has three marinas, each of which is bigger than the proposed marina at Nauxim. Goa, with an area of 3,702 sq km, is bigger than both these countries. Dubai is a little bigger than Goa (4,114 sq km), and has four marinas. Goa has more than enough space for a marina.

Effect on fishing: Nauxim, Cacra, Odxel and Siridao – the fishing hamlets in the vicinity of the marina – have mainly traditional fisherfolk with canoes. The main threat they face is from mechanised trawlers that illegally fish in the area. Regardless of whether the marina comes up or not, this threat must be confronted. The local people have been fighting to stop trawlers from overfishing in the area, but some politicians who are themselves trawler owners have been purposely misguiding them that the marina will threaten their livelihoods.

It is true that the marina will occupy one lakh square metres of water area. But the advantage for the fisherfolk of Nauxim is two-fold. The marina will act as a barrier for monsoon waves, creating a safe water area. Fishing canoes will be able to operate year-round, even during the monsoon. The rubble mound breakwaters of the marina will create a rich breeding ground for fish, as well as for xinnaneos and calvam. Fishing will get affected during construction, but once it is built, the long-term benefits will more than compensate. The fishing grounds of Cacra, Odxel and Siridao will remain unaffected by the marina.

Water pollution: Goa has over 1,500 trawlers. Each fishing jetty in the state is a boat parking station with a few hundred trawlers, just like a marina. But not a single jetty has any of the facilities that a marina offers. Trawlers have no toilets. Hundreds of migrant workers living on these boats do their business in the water each day. Is this not pollution? All repairs are done at these jetties, and the spent oil is just discharged in the water. Is that not pollution? It goes on day in and day out. But the activists who are crying themselves hoarse about the marina have never raised even a whisper in protest against this ongoing pollution.

All the boats in the marina will have toilets with holding tanks to store sewage. There will be a facility to suck up this sewage and send it to the treatment plant in Tonca in sealed tankers. The repair facility will have machinery to ensure that no oil gets into the water. This is standard equipment in all marinas worldwide.

Jobs for locals: Activists say that because a five-star hotel in the area did not provide much employment to the locals, the marina will do likewise. But there is a fundamental difference. Hotels require staff with specialised training in hospitality. Marinas require staff with the ability to handle boats. The locals already have the basic skills required. It is the duty of the representatives of the people in these villages to negotiate with the marina management and ensure that these jobs go to the villagers. This is a career opportunity. Locals can get specialised on-the-job training at the marina’s sailing school, acquire a few years’ experience and get jobs abroad at much higher salaries.

Why cancel the public hearing? What I find most puzzling (and suspicious) is the demand of those leading the anti-marina protests that the Public Hearing on 2 November should be postponed or cancelled. This is the forum where the concerns and problems of the locals vis-à-vis the marina will be officially placed on record, so that the authorities as well as the marina developers are forced to take these issues into consideration. The interests of the locals will be much better served by putting forward their points of view clearly at the public hearing.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Hi, I am currently a seafarer for 22 years and been to Singapore, Monaco and quite few other places as mentioned by Ashwin Tombat. First and foremost Mr. Vijay Mallya owns a yatch and the govt itself cannot get him back to pay his dues. Who will be responsible for dues payable back to locals who work there. Goa itself doesn't have strong labour laws for employees who have long overdues from their employers. India doesn't have a system in place for any development e.g garbage, regular maintenance audits, consumer protection laws, etc. No one is against development but get a system in place and then convince citizens about the advantages of marinas

- Joseph Fernandes , Margao | 28 th October 2019 02:48


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