GAURANG PRABHU/ Goemkarponn
MARGAO: Former experts on the subject of ‘Sal River’, some of the people’s representatives believe that if they take this issue seriously, it is possible to revive Sal.
There are three critical ministerial posts in South Goa, including the Water Resources Minister.
Babu Kavalekar, the Quepem MLA from the district, is the Deputy Chief Minister of the state, while the post of Deputy Speaker is also in South Goa, which means if the ruling MLAs have a will to revive Sal, it can be achieved.
The river Sal flows from Verna to Kelshi at about 40 km. As Kelshi-Mobor is a coastal area, the water is saline up to about twenty kilometres from Salcete.
Sal desilting a scam?…
The government is pumping out silt from the river, and 80 per cent of the work has been completed so far.
The second phase of work will be undertaken soon in the near future. However, people are alleging that ‘sludge pumping’ is a net fraud. It is not easy to deny this allegation because the reasons are apparent.
A few months ago, a thorny forest was destroyed in the Orlim in the name of dredging the river.
People have accused authorities of going deep and “dredging” despite instructions to pump up to three meters of sludge.
This deep dredging has also worn off the protective wall of one person here and destroyed the thorny bushes necessary for the fish population.
After a few of the environmentalists lodged a complaint with the Biodiversity Board, the board had directed the district administration to look into the matter. But it still doesn’t seem to be noticed or acted upon.
Waste disposal goes unabated…
At one end, there is a slaughterhouse by the river and all the waste is directly disposed into the river. Some hospitals in the city discharge sewage waste and hospital waste now into the nallah, which directly joins the river, and the administration seems to be silent spectators to this.
Many such instances continued over the years, making it appropriate to say “educated people with uneducated ethics”.
About 14 km of Sal River flows through urban areas, including important areas like Verna, Madgaon, Naveli, Banavali etc.
Sal is heavily polluted, particularly in these populated areas, proving once again that humans are the greatest enemy of the environment.
People passionate about the environment seek redressal from time to time at the level of Green Arbitration, Pollution Control Board, Biodiversity Board, etc.
Looking at the present scenario, it will take time for the government policies to become clear on the existence and conservation of all the rivers in the state.
If we think that the world would end after us, then the next generation will surely have to bear the consequences of such psyche. It’s a wake-up call for the administration.
There is no point in cleaning up the river repeatedly until a permanent solution is sought to dispose of waste from neighbouring settlements that flow directly into the river.
Every year, the government spends millions of rupees to clean the Sal River. But there seems to be no attempt to cash in on the dirt flowing directly into the river from the city’s nallah or treatment of effluent discharged into the river.
– Sanjay Desai, Margao local
Establishments and hospitals in the city also discharge their waste directly from the nallah into the river.
Such act has been brought to the notice of the administration many times, but it results in the only temporary inspection of the premises, with no further productive output.
The doors of the court have also been knocked for the safety of the river. If the Panchayat takes a tough stand on this issue, it will save the heritage river. The river, which once carried large ships, is now flooded with filth and almost cries out for its survival.
– Siddharth Karapurkar, Navelim villager
The destruction of the river is going on in the Benaulim-Orlim area, it has been highlighted from time to time, but due to the government’s lack of will, the destruction continues.
People are being deceived. Unfortunately, the administration is unwilling to take any initiatives despite suggestions pouring in from higher-level machineries like the Biodiversity Board, Green Arbitration etc.
Sludge extraction is being carried out in Benaulim areas, and illegal sand mining is also underway. The destruction of the environment is going on everywhere.
Instead of pumping out sludge, the administration should chalk out steps to prevent pollution. It is hoped that the forthcoming nationalization of the rivers will not be a corridor for mining business or for construction of another jetty but solely focus on conservation of our natural reservoirs.
Royla Fernandes – social worker and environmentalist