- Mining sends sacred groves on path to extinction: Environmentalist
Mining sends sacred groves on path to extinction: Environmentalist
Rajendra Kerkar calls for government action to protect the disappearing patches of biological importance
PANJIM: Environmentalist and National Wildlife Board member Rajendra Kerkar, who has done an extensive study on sacred groves in the State, revealed that these devrai or vanrai, protected by locals due to religious and cultural sentiments, are on the verge of extinction due to rampant mining activity.
Areas like Naveli and Sural in Bicholim, Pissurlem in Sattari, Uguem in Sanguem, that have a number of sacred groves, are now crying for attention. “Mining activities are responsible for destroying the sacred groves. If government fails to take some stringent action, these institutions protected by the community for ages, will become things of the past,” Kerkar said in his book ‘Sacred Groves of Goa’ released by Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB).
Kerkar’s book – Volume I – has documented the sacred groves of Goa, their existence and biological importance.
“Ecosystem services provided by them are perhaps the greatest and the most crucial contribution to the society and community,” Kerkar said. “However, with rampant mining activities, these institutions are on the verge of extinction. In areas, affected badly by haphazard mining activities, these community-conserved areas are totally degraded,” the green crusader added.
Giving examples, he said that the villagers of Naveli had traditionally guarded the groves but now, with wealth from mining, they have forgotten the rich assets of natural and environmental heritage of the land. At Naveli and Kudne, currently, only one sacred grove remains at Pavalar, and except for a few trees and vegetation cover, the forests have been degraded.
In Surla, the Mhardanyacho Dongar sacred grove, in the forest was so thick and protected that it was a habitat for tigers. “However, mining activities have totally degraded the sacred groves, which were guarded as the tiger was associated with the holy spirit of Mhardano,” Kerkar stated.
Other sacred groves on the verge of extinction are Mharinganachi Raj and Pejalidevichi Rai Pissurlem and Mhas Dongor near Peri Sard of Uguem. Purvatali Rai and Ajyachi Rai, are the only groves which remained untouched by mining.