Herald: Activists protest felling of coconut trees along highway at Guirim

Activists protest felling of coconut trees along highway at Guirim

04 Apr 2019 05:53am IST

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04 Apr 2019 05:53am IST

Report by
Team Herald

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Say with destruction of the trees, the identity of Goa is at stake; Slam Rohan and Vijai for their silence

GUIRIM: Activists, youth and concerned citizens were up in arms against the rampant felling and destruction of the avenue of coconut trees along the Guirim-Porvorim stretch of National Highway 17, on Wednesday evening. 

The protestors shouted slogans saying ‘Stop cutting the coconut trees, Amka Zai Amka Zai, Amche Mad Amka Zai” and “Diunche Na Re Diunche Na, Mad Katruck Diunche Na.”

Protestors alleged that while some trees were being cut at night, the others were being poisoned with the help of acid. 

The 2-km stretch from Guirim to Porvorim is home to around 400 coconut trees. However, these trees are facing the axe due to widening of National Highway (NH) 17.

Some of the protestors pointed out that when Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardessai were in the Opposition, they protested against the cutting of coconut trees along this stretch. “But after becoming Cabinet ministers they have forgotten their promise to protect these trees, the very basis, on which their party was formed and their symbol being a coconut,” the protestors said.

Two years ago historian Prajal Sakhardande and a group of nature lovers led a chipko movement and held a protest to save the coconut trees on either sides of the road. Once again they were forced to come out on the street as the trees are being destroyed.

“From 2016 we have been coming out on the road to protest cutting of the State tree that is always in danger. We fear that all these trees will be cut; hence, we have launched this save coconuts chipko andolan. These trees are being being cut and cleared during the night. The government needs to save these beautiful trees. There is suddenly a destruction of natural heritage being undertaken in Goa. There are several trees being cut across the State,” Sakhardande said.

“The identity of Goa is at stake and we request that these trees be saved. The former chief minister had given an assurance to protest the same. The present government should respect the same and save these trees. Rohan and Vijai had earlier came and supported this movement,” Sakhardande added.

Calangute Constituency Forum President Premanand Divkar pointed out that in January 2016, during the BJP government, authorities shocked everybody by announcing that coconut palm would no longer be considered a tree, but categorised as grass.

North Goa District President Vijay Bhike said that the government should plant new trees in the places where they have cut the coconut palms. 

“These trees are being cut at night and some are being killed by pouring acid on them. It is very clear they are being poisoned as the crown of the tree is turning brown. This is massive destruction of the environment being carried out across the State of Goa and it’s high time it is stopped,” Bhike said.

Last month, the Goa Green Brigade had written to the PWD Minister, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Chief Secretary and Manager of MVR Infra Projects criticising the act of illegal cutting over 50 trees and destroying the avenue of coconut trees. They also demanded that the concrete around the roots of the trees be removed as it was chocking the trees to death and to compensate the loss the contractor should replant new trees five times the number they have cut along the Guirim Highway.

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