08 Jun 2017  |   06:21am IST

Talpona - A river’s lament, Canacona’s tragedy

Abel Barretto Talpona

Talpona River has accumulated so much plastic waste and debris that it will eventually die a slow death.

The 30-kms Talpona River originates in the dense, pristine mixed jungles of Kuske on the Sahyadri Mountains in Goa. It meanders through Cotigao, Gaondongrem, Bhatpal and Sadolxem fed by the different tributaries and eventually drains into the Arabian Sea near the village of Talpona.

While passing through these villages it gives life to different types of vegetation and wild animals. It also has dams at several places, with the water being used for plantation as well as human consumption.

On October 2, 2009 this river was in the news for overflowing and causing floods due to persistent and continuous rains. NIO had claimed it as cloud burst. People residing on the banks had seen their household items washed away in the torrent, with some also reporting their houses collapsing.

The administration and most of the MLAs had visited the entire stretch and had given all types of assurances for the affected people.

During the flooding, lots of stones and other debris came down from the mountains and the silt had deposited all along the floor of the river making it difficult for the marine life to survive. Locals and travellers passing by the river are accused of dumping all type of waste and garbage, including plastic, crisp packets, empty water bottles, newspapers, plastic bags, oil, poisonous cans, human waste, excrement, dead animals and plastic flowers in the once fertile river for marine life.

Some locals are complaining that in spite of funds made available to the Poiguinim Panchayat the erstwhile panchas didn't make any effort to solve this issue. With the panchayat also failing to educate people on effective disposal of garbage, dumping waste in the river appears to have become a habit for the people.

The river has one of the rare ecosystems of the world, with a mangrove forest covering a vast portion of the backwaters which is in danger due to this synthetic and other waste. Millions of birds have made these mangroves their home during the night. Locals fear that destruction of these mangroves forests may force the birds to migrate and never return. The beach beside the river is earmarked for nesting of Olive Ridley turtles listed as endangered species. In the past turtles have been reported dead due to ingestion of plastic.

A senior citizen and a social activist Ervilho Barreto, who lives on the bank of this river, recollected saying, "there was abundant fish and clams in the river earlier but due to pollution, the fish is found dying and clams have disappeared from this river.”

Pradeep Mokardakar, a fisherman living on the banks, said, "there is lot of waste dumped at the natural port on the mouth of this river which includes nets, ropes, plastic bags, etc which make it dangerous for the marine life. If timely action is not taken then this once beautiful river will have the same fate as River Ganga."


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