Tuesday 16 Aug 2022

No one touches Curlie's in the republic of Anjuna

Its name crops up whenever there is a discussion on institutional drug consumption. It exists literally in no man’s land and follows no rules and laws. The police acknowledge that it is under their drug watch list, the local panchayat says that the structure is illegal.

Team Investigations | SEPTEMBER 29, 2012, 07:25 AM IST

But no cases and complains have been filed. In a month long investigation, The Goan exposes how the police and the panchayat have helped Curlie’s to thrive

On paper it is plainly House No. 774/2, St. Michaelwaddo,Anjuna. But for Curlie’s, shack to foreign tourists and restaurant to its ownerEdwin Nunes, there is more than one identity that the place has. From being“mentioned” in connection with the infamous Scarlett Keeling murder case tofeaturing in the high profile police-politician-drug nexus case (Roy D’Souza,one of the deponents as Roy, works here), the hotspot is as popular for reasonsthat may not be totally right.

But what The Goan uncovered is more. A saga of how anambitious entrepreneur fudged records, connived with panchayat and localpoliticians to ward off a CRZ demolition and remains untouched by any knownlaw.

The shack that becamea ‘restaurant’

A Google Earth satellite image of May 23, 2003 shows a tinytemporary structure on Anjuna Beach. The place mark actually shows Curlie’s asa spot on the beach. Enquiries with Anjuna Panchayat reveals that for a verylong time, the ‘shack’ continued to apply for a temporary seasonal shacklicense every year. In 2008, Department of Tourism had clamped down on rampantissuance of shack licences by Village Panchayats and took over the functionitself. Documents with The Goan reveal that the shack was given its’ first andlast No Objection Certificate by Department of Tourism for erection oftemporary shacks on December 31, 2007. The temporary permission was to lasttill May 31, 2008 when the Tourist Season of 2007 ended. The order signed bythen Tourism Director Elvis Gomes clearly stated that the validity would notextend beyond that period. What happened thereafter was remarkable.

On July 2, 2008, Sandip Chimulkar, Sarpanch of Anjuna-Caisua‘renewed’ the license of Curlie’s as a ‘restaurant’. Thirty two days after theend of tourism season of 2007, Curlie’s became a permanent restaurant from atemporary shack. Anjuna Panchayat officials have confirmed that Curlie’s, priorto the 2007 season, had never applied for a restaurant licence, nor had beengranted one. How then did they get a renewal? The current panchayat is stillfiguring this out. While Curlie’s proprietor Edwin Nunes defends that therestaurant had been operating for a very long time,  the panchayat however has no records of arestaurant of that name prior to 2008 having been permitted.   

Beat CRZ (rules): Onehouse number, two locations

But Curlie’s continued to twist the law in more than oneway. The Department of Tourism mandates that an applicant for a temporary shacklicense has to produce a No Objection Certificate from the owner of the privateproperty where the shack will be erected. Curlie’s shack was granted a licenseon the land of Baptista Nunes (land Survey No. 42/10) ever since it applied fora temporary license to Anjuna Panchayat. Months later when the shack faced ademolition for operating illegally in a CRZ zone, Curlies’ had a new alibi. Ahouse number 774/2. The idea saved Curlie’s.

However, The Goan investigations reveal that AnjunaPanchayat had granted this house number ( 774/2)  to the house on survey No. 45/19, which is akilometer away from the present site. The plot belongs to Angelina Nunes,Edwin’s mother. How two houses, a kilometre apart, get the same house number,raises serious questions about how and who allots house numbers at thePanchayat. What is interesting to note is that the while two survey numbers,almost a kilometre apart, have same house number, the house adjacent to thepresent Curlie’s has House no. 762. How did House numbers 774/2 and 762 existadjacent to each other then?

Curlie’s: Growingyearly

In his chat with The Goan, Curlie’s proprietor Edwin Nunessays that his restaurant existed earlier than 1991 when CRZ Act came intoforce. But satellites don’t lie. Google Earth images reproduced by The Goanclearly shows that (a) Curlie’s existed on the beach and may have not even beenon a terra firma in 2003 and (b) it was then a small temporary structure thathas increased substantially over the past decade and many new structuresgrossly violating CRZ has been added. From Survey no. 42/10 new ones havecropped up in adjacent Surveys 42/9 and 42/11 too. All making up for the newCurlie’s restaurant.

The Goan has in possession of letter dated June 28, 2007from then Tourism Director Sandip Jacques to Member Secretary, Goa Coastal ZoneManagement Authority that lists Curlie’s as a temporary structure, whichexisted despite a High Court Order of 2006 seeking removal of all CRZ violatingstructures from the beach.

A panchayat ofconvenience

How Anjuna panchayat made a permanent restaurant out of atemporary shack, gave it a fake house number, even gave the electricitydepartment a fake NOC to give two connections for the same house number akilometer apart and even moved a panchayat resolution to save Curlie’s, has aninteresting tale. Investigations with the Anjuna Panchayat reveals Edwin Nuneswas himself a panch as well as Sarpanch during 2007-2012. This was the periodwhen the whole exercise of saving Curlie’s from demolition was executed.

Copies of panchayat resolution moved on February 5, 2008reveals how the panchayat unanimously moved a resolution to save Curlie’s, bywithdrawing the demolition notice issued to it, after a High Court directive todemolish illegal structures on the beach in CRZ zone. The meeting had SarpanchSandip Chimulkar moving the resolution while Panch Agnes Roy D’Souza secondedit. Agnes is the wife of Edwin’s employee Roy. Edwin himself was a Panchattending the meeting. This was match-fixing most bizarre.

Curlie’s never looked back thereafter and has grown up toepitomise the state’s inherent inability to let controversial institutionsgrow.

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