As many foreigners, especially Russians, have made this Goan coastal village their home, Morjim is slowly moving away from its natural riches

Goa’s northernmost coastal village — Morjim — may end up like the beach resorts of the Mediterranean which have lost their culture to growing tourism and trade, warns an international study.

“Morjim is at crossroads. It can preserve its natural riches with a vibrant and caring tourism industry or it can suffer the same fate of beach resorts in the Mediterranean whose culture is destroyed,” according to Oxford Brookes University’s Hilde Dunker, an expert in sustainable tourism.

The detailed study conducted by the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University, in collaboration with NGO SEEDS India and the International Centre Goa (ICG) has identified key threats as well as opportunities for Morjim.

The 15-page document is being released on Thursday in Morjim’s fish market, an area frequented by most of the locals, 40 km away from here.

The study says, “Unless better managed, Morjim’s growing tourism trade risks swamping this quiet village, and plunging those already vulnerable into further uncertainty.” Morjim is also known as mini-Russia as several hundreds of Russians have made this village their second home.

The village, represented by BJP’s Goa unit chief Laxmikant Parsekar in the State Legislative Assembly, also saw Nationalist Congress Party leader Rajan Ghate launching a campaign against the foreigners buying land here.

The campaign had snowballed into full length agitation forcing the State government to initiate an inquiry which identified that around 400-odd foreigners had purchased properties in Goa by violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The village was also in news after Russians began attacking locals over the petty issues. The report by Oxford Brookes University has said that unplanned and uncontrolled development, environmental degradation and climate change are the concerns for this village which is bestowed with a beach.

“They are in addition to the potential loss of culture and change in livelihood and aspirations,” the report adds.

The report also makes further recommendations including protecting local cultural and environmental resources, promoting sustainable and community involved tourist practices and empowering the community so they have influence on the future of their town.

The major opportunities have been identified as the potential of increased tourism to provide alternative employment and livelihood opportunities, the improvement of mobility and access to surrounding areas for local inhabitants, and the opportunity to utilise Goa’s tropical climate to reduce energy consumption and provide water resources.

Anshu Sharma from SEEDS India, who is associated with the project, said that around 14 students led by a Professor and three Indian facilitators worked for ten days for this project at Morjim.

“This is our first ever project in Goa,” he said adding that in past they have worked in the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where devastations had occurred.

“This time, we decided to go to a place where there is a developmental pressure and hence we came to Morjim,” he added.

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