Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Khazan ecosystem: Govt indifference imperils age-old heritage

Khazan ecosystem: Govt indifference imperils age-old heritage

The 3,000-year-old Khazan ecosystem of Goa is facing a threat due to rapid urbanisation.


Goa’s 3,000-year-old Khazan ecosystem -- which is facing a threat due to rapid urbanisation/development or due to various other social economic realities -- is crying for attention and protection over the years.

Despite, the State government-appointed Expert Committee recommending a 'UNESCO World Heritage Site' tag for this ecosystem along with a detailed survey, no efforts have been made towards it. While the Archaeology department informed that it does not come under its purview, the proposal is not on the list of the Environment department.

The Committee headed by expert Dr Simon D’Souza in its report on Khazan Management, drafted way back in 2021, in a bid to incorporate it as part of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 2011, had said that the Khazan ecosystem amply qualifies as a heritage eco-system worth promoting for acceptance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“The Khazan land ecosystems are unique man-made systems established around 3,000 years back by our ancestors as a result of intricate ecological, technical and environmental knowledge gained by them through centuries of trial and error efforts,” the report had stated.

Interestingly, this report is yet to be accepted by the Environment department or the State government and hence it was never made a part of CZMP 2011.

The Committee, comprising all environmental and ecological experts, had strongly recommended to the State government to take up the issue of the ‘heritage eco-system’ tag for consideration with UNESCO.

The issue was raised during a Monsoon Session of the Goa Legislative Assembly in July 2023 by AAP MLA Venzy Viegas, who had questioned the government's intention in this regard. Archaeology Minister Subhash Phal Dessai had told the House that there is no such proposal before them and that it does not come within their jurisdiction.

When contacted, sources from the Environment department informed that the report is yet to be accepted by the government and hence, its recommendations cannot be implemented. Sources also informed that in view of the new CZMP 2019, a new Khazan Management plan would be drafted.

Meanwhile, the committee had also recommended eco-tourism activities in the Khazan land as "out-of-box" ideas to generate additional income. It said that the Khazan land should be planned as a “self-sustaining” model with receipts from agriculture, pisciculture and salt farming over and above the expenditure on bund maintenance and other farming inputs.

Observing that no statistical data is available with respect to the present status of Khazan land ecosystems in the State, the Committee had proposed a detailed survey of the Khazan land, which would help in its revival and sustainable management.

A rough estimate shows that the Khazan land is spread across 18,500 ha.

The dearth of data is felt related to land, crop and ownership as well as demography facts on the ground. According to the experts, a detailed survey would help not only in planning but also in regulating and managing the Khazan ecosystem effectively.

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