19 Apr 2024  |   03:58am IST

Quo Vadis Goa?

Goa, once renowned for its natural beauty blessed as it was with majestic forests on the East, sprawling flatlands in the middle and lapping sea waves on the West is struggling to retain this beauty that was ostensibly bestowed upon by the Gods. The natural beauty, coupled with the people’s penchant for cleanliness and affinity to welcome visitors, made this land world famous. Unfortunately, the fame is now turning into infamy as Goa has fallen prey to neighbours’ pride, who are becoming its owners.

This natural beauty is under a serious threat as people want to construct structures anywhere and everywhere, due to which Goa is rapidly marching towards becoming a concrete jungle. Hills are being cut indiscriminately to pave way for housing colonies, the fields are being filled to construct bungalows and even commercial buildings, and beaches are being grabbed by water sports organisers, and, very shortly, maybe the hoteliers - as the No Development Zone limit is sought to be reduced.

It is indeed ironical that though the Regional Plan 2011 was scrapped following a massive mass movement, the same proposals made in the scrapped Regional Plan are now very surreptitiously being carried out through amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act. Huge tracts of orchard land have been changed to settlement under the guise of “corrections”, claiming that the same was wrongly shown as non-settlement zone years ago when the Plan was prepared. While the government claims that these changes are made for local Goans’ small holdings, inorder to enable them to construct their own dwelling house, the fact remains that huge tracts of land are converted through “corrections” for corporate houses and non-Goans mostly hailing from the cash rich north India.

It is not only our land that is under threat, but our culture. The ethos of Goan identity is being eroded and discarding cleanliness is a reflection of this phenomenon. Besides the garbage found by the roadsides, the lack of cleanliness in government buildings testifies this. Every government building is garishly splattered with paan stains, particularly along the staircases, as if people have been participating in a graffiti painting competition.

Yet another area where Goa is under threat is the manner in which our water bodies and more particularly rivers are maltreated. Bridges are constructed across most rivers in the State and on these we see another fast disappearing hall mark of Goa. These bridges are used as vantage points to fling household garbage in the rivers, thereby polluting them. Gone are the days when Goans would strive to keep the rivers clean as they used to consume the fish from them. Following electrification of the railway lines, Indian Railways have installed huge nets along the rail overbridges to stop people from throwing anything on the tracks, which would damage the electric cables on which the trains operate. The Public Works Department apparently is not inclined to replicate what the railways did on bridges across rivers, as it has not even bothered to reply to a request made by Chandor Cavorim panchayat nearly six months back to provide nets on the bridges across River Kushawati. Will the Goa State Pollution Control Board act on this?

While it is true that the government has failed at all levels to protect Goa and its beauty, the moot question is what have we as sons and daughters of this soil done to preserve it for the next generation? Every person can make a difference. Raise your voice whenever you see something being destroyed. Let us start small by maybe stopping the person spitting paan on the staircase or the person dumping garbage by the roadside. If each one decides to do his/her bit, there is hope for Goa, otherwise it will truly be Paradise Lost!


Idhar Udhar