Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Call to stop Aquasail water sports activities in Zuari River

Date: 19th April 2016


To,
The Governor of Goa,
Raj Bhavan, Cabo,
Dona Paula, Goa

To,
The Chief Minister
Government of Goa
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

To,
Minister of Fisheries,
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

To,
The Leader of the Opposition,
Goa Legislative Assembly,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

To,
Secretary (Fisheries)
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

To,
Secretary & Commissioner (Ports)
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim, Goa

To,
The Director of Fisheries,
Panjim, Goa

To,
Captain of Ports,
Panjim, Goa



Subject:  Call to stop Aquasail water sports activities in Zuari River
1.      For past two and half months there is continues violation fishing rights in Zuari due to water sports carried near Bambolim – Nauxim villages by Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd.
2.      Today is 19th April 2016. On this very day in 2014 traditional fisherman Vishnu Kankonkar was violently treated with slap on his face by then Agassaim Police Inspector Devendra Gad on Bambolim Beach on behalf of this corporate. So far no action has been taken against Devendra Gad for taking law in his hand.  Why?
3.      The root of this conflict lies in clash between tourism and fishing in Zuari river. We have examined the available records under RTI from various government agencies and we now are filing comprehensive complaints before you for your immediate action. Noting dated April 07, 2014 from the then Chief Minister of Goa and current Defence Minister of India Manohar Parrikar that gave final approval for the Aquasail to operate water sports activities in Zuari River. ‘Permissions has been issued to 40 units which involve some inflatable boats, wind surfing boards, laser fun boats and kayay. In 2015 after repeated complaints against Aquasail Secretary (Fisheries) placed internal noting on August 21, 2015 that reads “Before issuance of renewal of NOC, we can have a meeting as proposed by Dir (Fisheries) with all the stake holders for necessary direction please.’ Then on September 28, 2015 note from the Fisheries minister Avertano Furtado states “Based on the meeting held with the Fishermen Association & AquaSail N.OC. may be granted subject to the conditions that (1) Operation time may be restricted from 9.30 a.m to 5.30 p.m. (2) Compensation to be paid in full to the Fishermen for any damage caused to the nets etc by AquaSail.” So we have a situation that in 2014 Fisheries Minister allowed Chief Minister to take decision. In 2015 he took the decision himself.
4.      Also ideology of compensation has been introduced and possibilities of fishing nets disruptions are admitted. The inspection report of Superintendent of Fisheries (Enforcement) and Fisheries Officer is reported after inspecting conflict site that sailing activities did not destroy the nets of the fishermen and it is totally pollution free.  The issue was never about pollution due to water sports the issue was and continues is of disturbances of fishing activities as the currently water sports activities are carried on at space what is known get abundant fish catch. Reports from Fisheries department are deliberately distractive and misleading.
5.      Traditional Fishermen in Zuari River has been writing number letters to the Fisheries Department complaining about water sports activities in Zuari River that has seriously undermined fishing activities. The sources of this conflict can immediately be traced to a legal instrument created at the sub-registrar office in Panjim on 28/09/2011. This agreement is between Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited and Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd. Closer examination of this agreement reveals that there is nothing Goan about the Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited. This is a public limited company incorporated and registered under Companies Act, 1956, a part of DB Group of Companies with registered office address as DB House, Gen. A.K.Vaidya Marg, Goregaon (East), Mumbai 400063. On 02/07/2011 it took a resolution that Mr.Firoz Pathan, 36, Son of Haji Khan, Indian National, resident of 16/2, Al Amin Park – Vatva, Ahmedabad, Gujarat to represent this company in his capacity as Manager Engineer (Operations).
6.      Similarly Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt Ltd is also a company incorporated and registered under the Companies Act, 1956 at the office of Assistant Registrar of Companies, Maharashtra, Mumbai. It has registered office at 2J, Calcot House, 2nd Floor, 8 Muddanna P. Shetty Marg, Fort, Mumbai. 400023. It took resolution on 19/09/2011 to authorize its company director Sahkeel Kundrolli, 51, businessman, son of Rashid Kudrolli, Indian National, resident at 17/C, Usha Sadan, Colaba Post Office, Mumbai to represent the company. Short description of the company as available in this agreement itself is as follows:
“Aquasail is engaged in the business of providing high quality experience in water sports and a host of products and services in relation thereto.”
7.      The description of Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited (GHCPL) is revealing too:
“Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited is developing a property at Bambolim, Goa with a hotel of 5 star facilities, large conference facility, restaurants and Villas and has engaged Hyatt group of Hotels to manage the entire Hotel and Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited is further interested in setting up a water sports facility and for provisioning of water sports products and services in accordance with terms and conditions set out in the agreement”
8.      There is one more interesting bit of information in this agreement in facilities.
“Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited is the legal and beneficial  owner of the Bambolim property being land admeasuring 94,011 sq.mts of village Bambolim, at survey Nos. 12/1, 12/2 & 99/2, Goa.[1]
9.      This legal agreement carried on without consulting fishermen in Zuari has certain obligations placed on Aquasail that is in direct conflict with traditional fishermen in this river. Aqusail will have to conduct water sports ‘products’ and ‘services’. These are Sailing, Kayaking, Power boating, Wake boarding, Wind surfing and other beach sports, Personal Water Crafts, Scuba Diving (Only from sailing season of 2012 onwards), International Standard training courses in various water sports, Corporate events, celebrity events, and any other Events/ Activities related to water sports[2].

10.  The term of this agreement is for a decade:
“Subject to the term of this Agreement shall remain valid for a period of 60 (sixty) months from the date of execution hereof (“Term”) and shall be automatically renewed for another 60 (sixty) months unless the non renewal is communicated by either party to the other in writing at least 90 (ninety) days prior to the expiry date of the Term.[3]
11.  Letter dated 01/06/2013 from Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited to Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd specifies the date of commencement date of the Agreement  as 01/06/2013 for the period of 60 months that is upto 01/06/2018 and automatic renewal for another 60 months that is up to 01/06/2023.

12.  Business component is central to this agreement.
“Aquasail shall pay to GHCPL a sum of Rs.75,000/- per month exclusive of all applicable taxes commencing from month of October to May (Sailing Season) and a sum of Rs.40,000/- per month exclusive of all applicable taxes commencing from June to September (Off Sailing Season). The fixed charges shall be payable by Aquasail to GHCPL within 10 days of the commencement of every month. Fixed charges shall escalate at 10% per annum.[4]
13.  There is revenue share too.
In addition to the fixed charges, Aquasail shall pay to the GHCPL, 6% of the total gross revenue that Aquasail generates at the water sports centre during the sailing season only. Such payments shall be made to GHCPL with 10 days of the end of each sailing season[5].”
14.  None of the fishermen were aware of this agreement between the two companies from Mumbai intervening in the traditional fishing. In fact the agreement itself has very strict public disclosure policy inbuilt:
“No public release of information regarding this Agreement (including without limitation, announcements, denials, or confirmation of the placing of the services) to any third party shall be made by Aquasail, its employees, agents, officers, contractors, sub-contractors without prior approval of GHCPL for each such instance o disclosure. All copy of material relating to this Agreement which is intended for publishing and presentation in any form by Aquasail or any sub-contractor, must first be submitted in draft form to GHCPL for approval indicating the where/how it will appear.[6]
15.  There is even more strict confidentiality clause inbuilt within the agreement.
“The terms and conditions of these Agreements including its existence would be confidential information and would not be disclosed to any third party by any of the parties hereto except that the Parties would be able to disclose the terms and conditions of this Agreement to their respective advisors or if mandated by applicable law.[7]
16.  There are two key government departments that are involved in granting permissions for the water sports activities – Captain of Ports and Directorate of Fisheries. The available records prove that Director of Fisheries N.V.Verlekar granted No Objection Certificate (NOC) for these water sports activities on 09/01/2013 to carry on the activities from 09/01/2013 to 31/05/2013 with a condition that the sports activities shall not cause any hindrance to any fishing activities conducted by the traditional fishermen in the area. It is not sure as to whether any water sports activities were carried on during this period. Next Director of Fisheries Dr.Shamila Monteiro revoked this NOC on 26/11/2013 citing the reasons of opposition from local fishermen. The revoked NOC was reconsidered again on 15/04/2014. This came in for sharp criticism from the Fishermen of Nauxim, Bambolim, Siridao, Cacra, and Odxel (Taleigao). In a letter of 09/05/2014 to the Fisheries Minister 132 fishermen wrote:
“The fresh NOC dt. 15.4.2014 issued by the Directorate of Fisheries requires the Water sports operator to comply with various conditions, the first and foremost condition being that “The sports activities shall not cause any hindrance to any fishing activities conducted by the traditional fishermen in the area”. However this condition can never be fulfilled because by its very nature the water sports activities interferes and disrupts the fishing activities as enumerated here below:-
1)      The area around the hotel is a protected bay where fish breed and are found in abundance especially solar prawns, muddoxio, chonak etc. The sailing activities disturb the waters of the rich fishing grounds and drive away the fish. They also prevent spawning of fish and destroy the ova laid.
2)      Near the Grand Hyatt, since many decades 3 families have been placing their Rampons. Due to the water sports activities they are not now in a position to carry out their fishing activity and are left destitute as their only source of livelihood has been destroyed.
3)      The Rampons and fishing activities are based on tidal movement and not conducted at fixed/regular timings. Water sports activities are conducted daily from 6.00 a.m in the morning to 6.00 p.m. in the evening so disruption of the fishing activities is a daily occurance.
4)      Some of the Company’s sailing boats have reached as far as Siridao during the last few days. This is the area where the traditional Ramponkars put their nets but now the Ramponkars fear that fishing activities will be disrupted.
5)      The fishermen of the area are generally magkars whose nets (katai) extends to a length of minimum of 300 mts. The Company’s sailing/motor boats very often damage these nets.
Further, one of the conditions of fresh NOC issued by the Directorate of Fisheries is that “the area of water sports activities is restricted to the area marked by the competent authority”. Till date no area has been marked by any authority and the water sports boats are freely moving about, even as far as Siridao.
Due to the Water sports activities our livelihood is threatened. Please do not force us to come on the streets and agitate against the injustice that is being done to us.
Sir, we are not highly educated and some of us are even illiterate, but our knowledge of our traditional occupation, the fishing conditions, fishing timings, tidal influences is based on experience and knowledge that is coming down from generations and is not based on mere book knowledge.
We therefore humbly request you to immediately cancel the NOC granted for the water sports activities, and save our traditional fishing occupation and only source of livelihood, for which we shall be ever obliged.”
17.  State never obliged to this. Never again the permissions were revoked. In fact the permissions were granted with level of political pressure on the Director of Fisheries from the office of the Secretary to Fisheries who is an IAS officer who heads the fishing administration in Goa even though the operation of water sports became difficult on ground because of daily monitoring of fishing rights violations put in place by organized fishermen[8]. Single IAS officer Amjad Tak is holding charge currently both as Secretary to Fisheries as well as Secretary and Commissioner to Ports. Captain of Ports has granted permissions to 40 water sports boats and NOC granted by Fisheries department. Fishermen through petitioning to the Captain of Ports have created written record of their protests over water sports.
18.  Fishermen were never consulted nor are responsible for the agreement dated 28/09/2011 between Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited and Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd signed before sub-registrar, Panjim. This agreement coupled with political pressure to continues fishing rights violations has created this confrontationist situation between tourism and fishermen.
19.  Both these companies Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited and Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd are operating against interest of traditional fishermen in Zuari and we call upon you to immediately stop water sports activities carried on in Zuari in this regard.
Yours Sincerely,


Maggie Silveira
President,
Goa State Unit


Sanjay Pereira
Convener,
Cacra unit 


Rohidas Andrade
Convener,
Bambolim unit


Soccoro Braganza
Convener, Siridao Unit


Anthony Cardozo
Convener,  
Curca Unit


Sitaram Pereira
Convener,
Odxel Unit


Milind Palkar
Convener,
Nauxi unit


Chandrakant Lotlikar
Secretary,
Siridao Unit


Hanuman Dias
Co-convenor
Odxel Unit


Honu Dinkar,
Co-convener,
Odxel Unit


Deu Kankonkar
Secretary,
Nauxi Unit


Bikaro Dias
Co-convener,
Odxel Unit


Yeshwant Shirodkar,
Co-convener,
Odxel Unit


Manguesh Sawant,
Co-convener,
Odxel unit


Amir Mardolkar,
Co-convener,
Nauxim Unit


Francis Coelho,
Co-convener,
Nauxim Unit


Dulba Pereira,
Co-convener,
Cacra Unit


Santosh Gauns,
Co-convener,
Cacra Unit


Sheila D’mello,
Co-convener
Cacra Unit

Santosh Kukalkar,
Co-convener
Cacra unit



[1] Legal agreement is between Goan Hotels and Club Private Limited and Aquasail Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd dated 28/09/2011, sub-registrar, Panjim, Clause 1.1.
[2] Ibid. clause 4
[3] Ibid. clause 8.1
[4] Ibid. Clause 2.1.1
[5] Ibid. Clause 2.1.2
[6] Ibid. Clause 10
[7] Ibid. Clause 16
[8] For more information visit ‘fishing’ folder at www.bharatmukti.blogspot.in

No comments:

Post a comment