Tar balls spoiling Goa beaches may stay till October: Government

Thursday, September 2, 2010

PANAJI - Goa’s tourism season, which begins in October, could be in peril.

The state government has conceded that the tar ball phenomenon which has layered several beaches with ugly, acrid, black streaks of oil, may well continue right up to October, when millions of tourists visit the state.

“The appearance of tar balls along the west coast of India is an annual phenomenon with high likelihood in the months from May to October, generally arising when an oil-slick occurs in the vicinity,” the state tourism department said in a statement late Thursday, quoting experts at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), a top central-government funded marine research centre.

The communiqué, also does not conclusively say when the tar balls, which have affected popular beaches like Calangute and Candolim, 15 km from here, and Colva, Velsao and other beaches in south Goa, would stop.

“Changing patterns of the weather and tides play a large role in determining whether the appearance of tar balls will continue over the next few days,” the release stated.

This may not bode well for Goa’s tourism season, which stretches from October to March and sees nearly 2.5 million tourists during the period, who swoop down in Goa in droves to its sun kissed beaches.

The press release also quotes state tourism director Swapnil Naik as saying that a team of scientists from the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) were expected to arrive into the state by early next week to conduct a thorough study of the phenomenon.

Naik has also tried to downplay the seriousness of the tar ball invasion by calling it an annual phenomenon during the monsoon season.

“We are in touch with the National Institute of Oceanography and are consulting with them on the occurrence. Close to 200 personnel are working round the clock to ensure that the beach cleaning operations proceed smoothly,” Naik has said.

The statement also quotes a spokesperson for the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Ralph de Souza, as however putting up a brave face.

“The sea gets rough and tar balls make their presence, although in very small quantities along the Goan beaches. The issue will definitely not affect the coming tourist season in any way,” de Souza said, contradicting an earlier statement by TTAG president Gaurish Dhond.

Dhond, while speaking to IANS, had termed the tar ball phenomenon a bad omen which “will not be good for tourism in Goa”.

Filed under: Environment

Tags: ,
will not be displayed