MARGAO: Locals of Cavelossim village, Velim constituency and environmentalists toured the River Sal on a boat to inspect the second phase of the ongoing dredging work in the river. The group was not only appalled by what they witnessed but they have also decided to approach the authorities like Captain of Ports with their concerns about the destruction being caused in the area.
“Unscientific and unsustainable dredging is being done by the government of Goa putting livelihood securities of fishing communities to a big risk. We, the stakeholders including fishermen, activists, biodiversity management committees’ (BMCs) chairpersons, environmentalists, kids and local communities had a meeting and then went for an inspection up the River Sal. What we saw was totally surprising. I would say Biodiversity is a total mess,” said Roy Barreto.
Barretto who filmed the inspection lamented that although the original intention of the dredging work as per the National Green Tribunal (NGT) was to help the fishermen by cleaning up the river’s pollution, that is not happening but instead the local fishermen are now worried about their livelihoods getting destroyed.
Fishermen and others who were present for the inspection also expressed shock at the manner in which the mangroves and roots of trees were being cut in addition to other environmental concerns to the river bed and local biodiversity.
Activist Abhijit Prabhudesai questioned if the actions of the dredgers were illegal as the mangroves and active mud flats which are protected by law have been destroyed. He alleged that this was not for protecting River Sal but to protect the commercial and real estate lobby’s interests.
At the meeting held by the local community, they all called for the dredging to stop and listed out reasons as to why this should happen.
Livelihood security of the fishermen will be affected as the dredged channel is a fish breeding ground. Mangroves being destroyed by dumping dredged material on the banks of the rivers,” was the first two reasons.
They also pointed out that as per the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules, the dredged material should not be dumped in the village jurisdiction, which they pointed out was being done. They also spoke about the detrimental effect the dredging has had on the tidal wave and reiterated that the dredging has to stop now.
“The Sewerage treatment plant at Khareband is not functioning and therefore (the sewage) is being dumped into River Sal and polluting the area further down, which kills the biodiversity and affects livelihood security,” read the last reason.
The issue of the sewage pollution from Khareband was another major point of discussion.
It may be recalled that in the past locals and other villages had also protested against dredging work of River Sal