- St Cruz backs govt’s proposal to declare Bondvoll Lake as wetland
St Cruz backs govt’s proposal to declare Bondvoll Lake as wetland
Goa State Wetland Authority, Biodiversity Board conduct public consultation seeking comments on the proposal to declare the lake as a wetland
PANJIM: As the State government proposes to notify Portuguese era Bondvoll Lake at the St Cruz as a wetland, a large number of villagers along with local Congress MLA Antonio ‘Tony’ Fernandes extended its full support, in a bid to grant protection to the water body.
The Goa State Wetland Authority and Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB) on Wednesday conducted a public consultation seeking their suggestions and comments on the proposal to declare the Bondvoll Lake as a wetland.
The villagers, gathered for the consultation were unanimous that the lake would be notified as a wetland. The locals have been granted seven days time to submit their inputs.
GSBB secretary Dr Pradeep Sarmukadam, who chaired the consultation, said that once Bondvoll is notified as a wetland, there would be prohibition on activities like reclamation of wetlands, and conversion for non-wetland uses; diversion or impediment to natural water inflows and outflows of the wetland; release of wastewater, dumping of solid waste, hazardous activities and any activity having or likely to have an adverse impact on ecological character of the wetland.
“However, the traditional activities like fishing will be allowed to continue provided it does not impact the character of the wetland,” said Sarmukadam.
According to locals, the lake was built during the Portuguese era in Goa and over 500 locals from St Cruz and the surrounding areas depended on the water resource of the lake for agricultural purposes.
While requesting to ensure that there is no contamination of the lake water, the villagers demanded that no tenancy should be allowed in the middle of the protected area.
The villagers have demanded that a buffer zone of 500 meters within the radius of the lake be declared.
Speaking at the meeting, the MLA said that villagers are of the strong opinion that the lake should be notified as a wetland at the earliest as it is the locality’s oldest heritage site that needs protection.
He urged the GSBB to place the final proposal before the villagers, before it notifies the same, .
The High Court, in the public interest litigation filed by resident Arturo D’Souza and by Calapor Communidade, had directed the government to prepare a road map for protection and conservation of the lake, viewing it as an ecosystem for the benefit of the public
During the consultation process, D’Souza requested authorities to ensure that the lake water remains fresh and not contaminated. He also brought to the notice that the bunds are been broken by miscreants and that the same needs to be repaired. Former local MLA Victoria Gonsalves also stressed upon the need to notify the lake as a wetland as it is part of the ecosystem and biodiversity.