Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Benaulim villagers take demand for bypass on stilts to Governor

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 25, 2022, 12:24 AM IST
Benaulim villagers take demand for bypass on stilts to Governor


Upping the ante in support of the western bypass on stilts, Benaulim villagers under the banner of Benaulim Vodlem Tollem Cultivators on Tuesday made a fervent plea to Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai to use his good offices with the Central government to plead the case of the villagers to allocate funds to build the western bypass passing through the fields on stilts.

The delegation comprising MLA Venzy Viegas, petitioner in the National Green Tribunal Royla Fernandes, Rudolf Barretto, Roque Fernandes, Charles D’Silva and Xavier Pereira drew the attention of the governor that the length of the portion of the western highway running through the catchment area in Benaulim is around 1.55 kilometres. They pointed out that the Highway authorities claim that there are no sufficient funds to build the western bypass on stilts in Benaulim. The approximate differential cost of building this portion of the highway is only Rs 112 crore, they informed the governor.

A memorandum submitted to the governor stated that when the development project of the western bypass was brought to the notice of the Gram Sabha way back in 2016, the same was welcomed but with a condition that the same will be built on stilts. The people were assured that their sentiments will be respected.

“We regret to inform you that the portion of the Western Highway in Benaulim is now being built on embankments, by reclaiming the remaining catchment area. This will only aggravate the situation destroying the agricultural fields in the area which also act as catchment areas”, the memorandum stated.

It further added that the rich bio-diversity at the spot will be lost forever. “The wetlands which are habitat to migratory birds who fly from as far as Siberia will be history. Our farmers who are having paddy fields at the proposed site will be denied their livelihood due to the flooding and rotting of the sown paddy. Our homes also will be greatly affected due to entry of stormwater in our houses due to the blockage caused by the highway being built on embankments”, it added.

The memorandum recalled that around three decades back, real estate sharks reclaimed some areas of this drainage system thus destabilizing the system. The floodwaters from the western side are now thus naturally getting diverted in the catchment areas of River Sal. Flooding woes commenced from this stage resulting in the evacuation of the inhabitants living in the vicinity of the River Sal every year during the monsoon. Newspaper, visual media reports and the State Government authorities have recorded this annual flooding in their Disaster Management Reports. The flooding does not only affect the site but the village on the whole since the floodwaters are pushed back in the village and into the homes of the inhabitants”, it added.

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