27 May 2022  |   06:57am IST

Uncertainty looms over 300 slum dwellers of Reboda-Maddar owing to Western Bypass project

This section of voters fears it would be last monsoon in their almost 30-year-old residences as they are sure flooding due to land filling would wash away their slums and also affect Benaulim
Uncertainty looms over 300 slum dwellers of Reboda-Maddar owing to Western Bypass project


MARGAO: The lives of nearly 300 people including 50 to 60 children residing at the slum of Reboda-Maddar near Tolleaband, Benaulim hang in the balance for Western Bypass project. They fear that this monsoon will be their last one, as all the houses will be washed away due to possible flooding, if the Western Bypass is not built on stilts.

The slum, which raised its ugly head nearly 35 to 40 years ago with one or two small structures, have now 25 houses and the residents are of political importance. Risking lives due to flooding during the monsoon is not new to them, but now they fear the worst. 

They live on the bund with a water catchment area on both the sides. Like others they too fear destruction to the environment and to their existence also, if the government goes ahead with the construction of roads by filling the low-lying area over here.

A visit to the locality revealed that they cannot even sleep peacefully these days, since they have noticed the land filling work being carried out to build the Western Bypass. They also want western bypass to be built on stilts at Benaulim like others.

They are even uncertain about their future, after struggling hard to stand up for their lives. 

It has been also revealed that there are more than 100 slum dwellers who have voting rights and they played a major role at the time of elections. 

It is pertinent to note that this area is most vulnerable to flooding during monsoon. District Administration is on record that these people would be shifted to the shelter homes during the heavy rains.

Speaking to Herald, Mohamad Jaffar Jalekar, a slum dweller expressed shock over the issue of Western Bypass for not calculating the risk that will cause to the lives of hundreds of people residing at the Toleaband slum area, which is just 120 meters away where the Public Works Department has already done the work of land filling. 

"We all are in a confused state of mind, as everyone is optionless to face the fate if the government fails to build the western bypass on stilts. Flooding is not a new thing for us, as we are already risking our lives during the monsoon. We are witnessing the threat of death in the form of flooding every monsoon. However, if the road is built by filling the land with mud it will result in an increase in water level and as a result our houses will be washed away,” said Jalekar. 

Mehboob Tapavale, who was born and brought up at Tolleaband, said he is not against the Western Bypass project but now his family fears danger looming over them.

"Maybe legally we are having no say in the matter, but as a human the government needs to look into the conditions we are going to face in the coming years due to the western bypass project. I am very much sure that if the road is not built on stilts, the people residing over here will be the first one to get washed away,” said Tapavale. 

Agreeing the same, Adam Sahab and Isak Ahamad also share the same sentiment. 

"We have already declared our support to the social activists who are agitating over the issue and demanding the western bypass on stilts at Benaulim. We are with them,” said Adam. 

One lady named Banu Begum said that not only her house will get flooded but the whole Benaulim will be affected if the Western Bypass is built by land filling. 

 Recently, the people of Benaulim along with the MLA Venzy Viegas met the Governor of Goa P S Sreedharan Pillai and urged him to direct the State government to construct the western bypass on stilts and not by land filling which they pointed out pose a dire threat to life and property. Social activist Royla Fernandes has been fighting over the issue at the legal level.



Iddhar Udhar