Collector (North Goa)
Subject: Objections to the proposal to grant Blue Flag notification to Miramar beach, Panjim, Goa.
We have come to know from media that you convened stakeholders meeting regarding proposal of the Indian Minister of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to declare around 12 beaches of India from Blue Flag certification; one of them being Goa's Miramar beach in Panjim. We have read the notification (http://www.
indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/ files/file/NOTIFICATION-FOR- BLUE-FLAG-CERTIFICATION.pdf) of the central government in this regard and are shocked to note that variety of construction and other interference will be allowed on all these beaches.
We write to object this proposal of Blue Flag certification as in reality it is a red flag of danger and insecurity to the several hundred fishers residing near the beach and use this beach for fish landing purpose as well as use Mandovi river, Arabian Sea as well as Zuari river for small scale fishing purpose.
This notification is totally in violation of SSF guidelines (http://www.fao.org/3/a-
i4356en.pdf) that India signed in 2014 in order to provide security to small scale fishers in India. Further this notification is also against National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 (http://dadf.gov.in/sites/ default/filess/National% 20Policy%20on%20Marine% 20Fisheries%202017_0.pdf) that has pledged to implement the SSF Guidelines through Article 54.
This notification of Blue Flag notification is also in violation of NATIONAL INLAND FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE POLICY 2019 (http://nfdb.gov.in/PDF/Draft%
20National%20Inland% 20Fisheries%20&%20Aquaculture% 20Policy%20(NIFAP).pdf) that pledges to implement SSF Guidelines via article 188.8.131.52.
It is indeed a matter of great concern to us to note that Goa Government has not taken any steps to set up high powered committee to over see the strategy to implement SSF Guidelines to protect fishing, fishers and good health of Rivers, Seas and all other water bodies used for fishing but instead are going about pushing projects like Blue Flag certification in order to give spaces to tourism at the cost of livelihood of fishing communities. This is wrong step and must be stopped. Fishing communities are already facing several challenges and hardships due to non-implementation of monitoring mechanism contained in SSF guidelines (https://sandrp.in/2019/05/02/
surest-way-to-defeat- solastalgia-zuari-river- fishing-community/)
There is no place for projects like Blue Flag certification in SSF guidelines. Only place is for community based tourism with zero role to corporate handling of tourism. Hence we write to you to convey to the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change to drop the case of Miramar Beach in order to keep small scale fishers without hardships due to this blue grab.
SSF Guidelines calls for integral management of coast involving fishing communities. In this regard we commend you for calling the meeting on September 14, 2019 at Goa Science Center, Panjim. However we request you to call for larger meeting with advanced notice of at least 15 days so that people can be informed properly and called for the hearing.
We also would like to inform you that even Denmark from where Blue Flag standards are set has been the signatory to SSF guidelines and in order to conserve, protect and improve the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution SSF Guidelines must be enforced and implemented all over Goa and India too. This will ensure that fishers of the coast are not evicted or their tenure rights in fishing are not trampled upon. For this purpose of enforcing SSF guidelines we pledge our support and co-operation whole heatedly.
Member, National Council, National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland),
Convener, Goa State, Bharat Mukti Morcha
Vice-President, Dialogue, Empathic Engagement & Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network - India
Researcher, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Goa Campus, Goa.