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Goa cops to tighten vigil on shacks

October 01, 2008 18:36 IST

Goa [Images] police has decided to tighten noose around the beach shacks to control all the illegal activities, including drug trade in the coastal belt beginning from this tourist season.
"We will crack down on the shack owners who play loud music beyond stipulated period of time, serve liquor till midnight and also encourage drugs in their premises," superintendent of police (North) Bosco George said.
The formal tourism season began in the state from October 1 onwards with 305 shacks setting up their palm thatched hut-like structure on the various beaches.
Most of these shacks are put up on busy Morjim, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Benaulim, Colva and Palolem beaches.
The police who faced a severe backlash after British teenager Scarlett Eden Keeling died on Anjuna beach last year have decided to act in time before another tragedy strikes.
Scarlett's mother Fiona Mackeown had launched a campaign against state police who allegedly shielded the drug trade in the state's coastal belt.
"We will issue notices to the shack owners informing them that they would be held responsible for any illegal activity in their shack. They should not allow drugs and loud music and liquor beyond stipulated time," George said.
The Scarlett case investigation had found that the shack which she had visited last was open till 0400 hrs, much beyond the permissible time and she was snorting drugs sitting in the kitchen of the shack.
"If someone is found having drugs in the shack, the equal onus would be on the shack owner," George, who is busy preparing the notice for the shack owners, said.

"It is not sole duty of the police to stop illegal activities, everybody has to be conscious, not only about their rights but also about their duties," he added.
This is for the first time that Goa police have put their foot down against the beach shacks, which enjoy immense political backing in their respective jurisdiction.
However, the shack owners say that such a police restriction would spell doom on their business.
"You can't hold shack owner responsible if someone snorts drug in his premises. We are not supplying the drugs and it is the responsibility of the police to check the trade," Agnelo Silva, a shack owner from Colva in south Goa, said.
The shack owners feel that they cannot check each and every cigarette that the customer smokes and hence it's impossible to curb the drug in the shack.
Frequent questioning to the customers would amount to the harassment which will keep the guests away from their shacks, Elvino Rodrigues, another shack owner, said.
Meanwhile, the state tourism department has welcomed the move. "It's a good step. We have been saying that safety and security of the tourists is very important. If we allow drug trade to flourish, we will lose good tourists. We want healthy tourism," Lyndon Monteiro, officer on special duty to the tourism ministry, said.

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