RAIA: The Raia gram sabha has opposed the village’s two lakes, Bebki and Bachbhatt, being designated as wetlands.
Sarpanch Peter Quadros revealed that the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) report was the source of the draft notification, but he also stated that the panchayat was not consulted at all in the process.
Savio Gomes, a former sarpanch who spearheaded the opposition to this draft notification, bemoaned the fact that the locals were not consulted in the notification’s issuance and insisted that it be challenged.
There was opposition because it was noted that many people who had either built their homes or bought plots to build homes in areas designated as Buffer Zones for the wetlands would suffer negative consequences.
The villagers contended that if they are not allowed to build houses in the future after the lakes are designated as wetland, the hard-earned money they invested in buying the plots would be wasted.
It is important to note that the government proposed to designate nine lakes—two of which are in Raia—as wetlands in a notification dated September 28, 2023. November 25, 2023 was the deadline for submitting comments or objections to this notice.
The sarpanch stated, “We requested a 15-day extension from the Goa State Wetland Authority and were granted the extension as we explained that this matter would be discussed at the gram sabha today.”
He said, “I thought it best not to be a party to this decision as I am committed to protecting and preserving the environment,” noting that the National Green Tribunal was keeping an eye on the Goa wetlands issue.
Interestingly, the Sarpanch is empowered by Section 10 1(v) of the Goa Panchayat Raj Act to prohibit discussion on any matter that is under investigation; given that the NGT was monitoring this matter, he inferred that it was under investigation.
In the meantime, the panchayat’s plan to hire a private contractor to pick up trash from homes every day was approved by the members of the gram sabha.