PANAJI: Goa is known, the world over for its clean, pristine beaches. It attracted the hippies in the 60s and 70s, which actually led to the birth of tourism in Goa. However, Now the dagger which hangs over famed Goan tourism and its beaches is treacherous  — coal, against which Goans are agitating, threatens to destroy “brand Goa” with all its glorious images and poetry.

Goa is trumpeted as the Number One tourist destination in India? But if coal is found on its beaches even in this measure or more, it will no longer be a paradise either for tourists or for Goans itself.

Director of Goa Foundation Claude Alvares was casually taking a walk on Kerim  Beach in North Goa on Monday taking time out from his relentless fight for Goa, be it mining or environment. But to his horror he found that coal was deposited on the beach at Kerim, Goa’s northern most point.

Alvares said this black menace coal could only have come from Mormugao Port. The reason, he cited was the antiquated methods of loading and unloading coal of MPT. And since coal is light it is washed miles away on water and it may be seen on every beach of Goa – whether in the north or the south, he said.

Goencho Avaaz co-convenor Capt Viriato Fernandes said he was shocked to see that Claude Alvares found coal on the beaches so soon.

Cap Fernandes said, “We are not at all shocked but surprised because it happened so soon. We thought handling of coal will lead to invading of coal at all the beaches of Goa. We thought in next 2-3 years we will find coal but finding coal so soon is a red flag to the Goa government.”

Capt Fernandes has appealed to the Goa government to stop coal handling at the Mormugao Port. He said that Goa is blessed with beaches and lot of tourists visit Goa to enjoy its beauty. He feared that washing of coal on beaches would lead to collapse of tourism and hoped that the government will listen to the voice of the people and stop handling business at the MPT immediately.