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A road in Morjim
A road in Morjim
Morjim is located in Goa
Location of Morjim in Goa
Coordinates: 15°37′46″N 73°44′09″E / 15.62944°N 73.73583°E / 15.62944; 73.73583Coordinates: 15°37′46″N 73°44′09″E / 15.62944°N 73.73583°E / 15.62944; 73.73583
Country India
State Goa
District North Goa
Sub-district Pernem
 • Total 10,000
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Postcode 403512
Area code(s) 0832

Morjim is a village in Pernem, Goa, situated on the northern bank of the Chapora River estuary. It is home to a variety of birds and is a nesting site for Olive ridley sea turtles. It has become known as "Little Russia" due to the concentration of Russian immigrants living there.[1]


Russian immigrants[edit]

Congress Party MP Shantaram Naik has condemned the Russian presence, objecting specifically to rudeness, nudity, and crime including assaults and running businesses in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.[2] Indian security agencies have become concerned with the Russian mafia involvement in drug trade, prostitution, and land ownership in the formerly quiet beach village.[3] CNN-IBN specifically accused former town and urban planning minister Babush Monserrate of ties to the Russian mafia.[4] Politicians have also described the Russian presence as "bad for Goa".[5]<br).

In response to such complaints, Vikram Varma, a Goa-based lawyer in the employ of Russia's Mumbai consulate, notes that out of tens of thousands of Russian visitors to and residents in the area, just fifteen were implicated in illegal property deals in 2007, and only two arrested for drugs possession in 2008, while the Russian visitors as a whole contribute roughly Rs. 4 billion to the local economy each year and form 40% of hotel occupancies.[1] Nearly 75% of chartered flights to Goa come from Russia.[3] Ironically Consul General Alexander Novikov claims that there is no Russian mafia in the State[6] despite the consulate's very own lawyer claiming the contrary.[7]

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is also Home Minister in charge of Police, in (April 2013) said that Russian, German or Israeli mafias were not operating in the state. "Russian, German or Israeli mafias are not existing in the state of Goa," Parrikar told the legislative assembly in Goa. He was responding to a question raised by Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco. Parrikar said that "unobtrusive watch" is maintained on the activities of the foreigners staying in Goa. "If any foreigner is found involved in any crime, legal action as per the law is taken," the Chief Minister added.[8]

The Goa CM was saying the same thing as what North Goa Police Chief said when Congress Govt was elected to power in Goa. North Goa Police chief said it would be an exaggeration to talk of foreign mafias in Goa (Talk page of this Morjim article has Police Officer interview)

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar does not believe that Russian and Israeli mafias operate in Goa, but Mumbai police are sure of it, Wikileaks has claimed citing a recently declassified US diplomatic cable. The cable dispatched by Mumbai Consul General Paul Folmsbee in 2009 quotes former head of Mumbai Crime Branch Rakesh Maria saying that trafficking of foreign women prostitutes to Mumbai is controlled by Israeli and Russian mafia lords operating from Goa. "Maria alleged that most trafficking of foreigners to Mumbai is connected to Russian and Israeli mafia operations in Goa, explaining why Mumbai police had not cracked the trafficking ring(s)," Folmsbee's cable numbered 09MUMBAI305 back home to the US administration said.[9]

Rajan Ghate, a secretary of the state unit of the NCP has demanded a thorough probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the nexus, between the Land Mafia, Politicians, and revenue officials, which is already being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).[10]

In August 2012 Eduard Faleiro, former Union Minister, reiterated the Russian mafia threat to Morjim and Goa, "Russians with criminal background are buying properties through benami means". Faleiro said, the state health minister Laxmikant Parsekar, is on record as saying at a gram sabha meeting at the Morjim village panchayat that "these Russians have all kinds of vices and the moment the Russian tourists come to one place all other tourists flee from there. Even earlier, we had tourists from other countries but we never had this problem." Parsekar said that the volume of Russian tourists in the state had triggered a virtual cultural invasion in Morjim and surrounding areas and because of their sheer numbers, the Russians were indulging in 'dadagiri'.[11]

On 2012–2013 New Year's Eve at 0:00, Club Fresh (owned by Elena Starkova and her Goan husband, including Indian partners) was trashed by an armed gang consisting of more than 20 men in retaliation over business quarrels. Guests including children were injured and property damage to the resort was incurred. [12][13]


Morjim Beach is a nesting and hatching habitat of the Olive ridley sea turtle, an endangered species. They are afforded the highest degree of protection under Indian law through their inclusion in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Poaching eggs or in any manner disturbing the turtles or their habitat is an offence punishable under Indian law.

Protection of marine turtles and their habitat has been embraced by the local community through community-based conservation efforts. These efforts were commenced sometime in the years 1995–96 by a number of local villagers after discussions with Goa-based environmental protection groups. Before this time, the eggs were poached by fishermen, but later the fishermen became some of the fiercest protectors of marine turtles.

The Goa Forest Department supports the turtle conservation efforts and has set up a Turtle Conservation Interpretation Centre at the Forest Office in Pernem utilising funds allotted by the Central Government of India. The Forest Department also pays a monthly stipend to young local volunteers involved in marine turtle conservation efforts in Morjim. A few of these volunteers have even found jobs with the Forest Department in recognition of their efforts. Some youth of Morjim have also gone on to campaign internationally by doing stints on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

The Tourism Department of the Government of Goa has aided the conservation efforts by restricting temporary seasonal structures (e.g. shacks) to only a portion of the beach, and requiring them to operate only during daylight hours. Owners of the structures are also legally obliged not to leave beach furniture strewn about after daylight hours and not to do anything that would adversely affect marine turtle conservation.

Sadly, in 2011 the turtles can hardly be seen any more due to over-urbanisation, light pollution, noise pollution. Morjim's wildlife is doomed as per a recent study of international researchers, the village is expected to be the next Calangute.[14]

Despite the ban, an Indian fashion show with illumination and music was held well into the night on 10 December 2011, flouting the law and outraging environmentalists and locals an umpteenth time.[15]


  1. ^ a b Barretto, Lita (8 March 2010), "Russians face backlash in India's Goa", Agence France-Presse, retrieved 22 March 2010 
  2. ^ "Naked Russians corrupt minds: Goa Congress MP", Times of India, 28 February 2010, retrieved 22 March 2010 [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Datta, Saikat (29 January 2007), "Molotov on Mandovi: The Russian mafia has barged into Goa, running its arms and drug trade freely", Outlook India, retrieved 21 July 2010 
  4. ^ "Goa leaders' pals: Russian mafia", IBN Live, 1 June 2007, retrieved 21 July 2010 
  5. ^ "Russian tourists bad for Goa: BJP leader", IBN Live, 21 February 2010, retrieved 21 July 2010 
  6. ^ "Trouble in Paradise", Oheraldo News, 11 January 2013, retrieved 17 January 2013 
  7. ^ "Mafia hunting for Russian owner of Goa resort: Lawyer", IANS News, 6 October 2009, retrieved 17 January 2013 
  8. ^ "Russia mafia not in Goa", business Standard News, 16 April 2013, retrieved 6 May 2013 
  9. ^ "Russian, Israeli mafia exist in Goa, says Wikileaks cable", India Today, 19 April 2013, retrieved 18 May 2013 
  10. ^ "CBI should probe Goa's land mafia, politician nexus: NCP", Sify News, 23 September 2011, retrieved 29 November 2011 
  11. ^ "Russia's 'no mafia in Goa' claim is false: Eduardo", Times of India, 15 August 2012, retrieved 17 August 2012 
  12. ^ "GOONS STRIKE AT MORJIM", Heraldo News, 2 January 2013, retrieved 2 January 2013 
  13. ^ AN online accessdate=2013-01-02, 1 January 2013 |url= missing title (help) 
  14. ^ "Morjim the next Calangute", Times of India, 21 January 2011, retrieved 29 November 2011 
  15. ^ "Fashionistas party at Morjim despite ban", Times of India, 12 December 2011, retrieved 13 December 2011 

External links[edit]