VASCO: Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE) and villagers of Velsao on Friday alleged that a video calling for the village pond (poim) to be emptied under the false claim that it is polluted, is being circulated on social media by mischief-makers who have done a ‘setting’ with railway authorities.
The villagers held the South Western Railway (SWR) responsible for blocking of water channels, causing the pond to flood. Citing the excuse of pollution, the railways want to empty the pond so that double tracking work can be carried out. No villagers or fishermen who depend on the pond for their livelihood have been consulted. Those who appear in the video are toddy tappers and cattle owners, the fishermen alleged.
GRE President Agnelo Rodrigues said that false news is being spread in the village, that traditional fishermen and their leaders are trying to play politics over the emptying of the village pond. He claimed that since his childhood, the pond has been a source of livelihood for the fishing communities, who he added, have always maintained it. He denied reports that the pond water was polluted and challenged the authorities to collect water samples for testing.
Rodrigues further alleged that some elements were targeting GRE leader Olencio Simoes, who is also a member of the National Fishworkers Forum, alleging that he tried to stop the villagers from opening the mouth of the creek. Reiterating that the flooding was caused due to railways blocking the flow of water, he added that flooding normally occurs during monsoon and that some vested elements are now trying to help the railways by opening the mouth of the creek. “If the mouth of the pond is opened, the fishermen will lose their fish stocks, which will flow into the sea,” he explained. Rodrigues appealed to the villagers to contact the GRE or the Velsao-Pale-Issorcim village panchayat for any assistance in this matter.