Goa is blessed with a rich, fertile and green land, but there are few efforts to preserve the natural beauty and environment of the State. Expressing concern over the rising degradation of the soil, growing pollution in the rivers and oceans, and the depletion of the fertile land in the name of construction and development, various conservationists shared their initiatives and projects that are being undertaken to preserve the tropical wonder State of Goa as the world celebrates the International Day of the Tropics on June 29.
Highlighting the need to protect various natural resources like mangroves, low lying paddy fields, Avertino Miranda, founder of ‘Goa Green Brigades’ told The Goan, “We’re working to conserve the Khazan lands in Goa and preserve areas rich in biodiversity such as the Succoro plateau, which contains butterflies, birdlife and wildlife. The Khamar Khazans which are on the outskirts of Mapusa are the only surviving lungs of Mapusa, these are all Communidade lands which are being destroyed, but we're trying to save them.”
In trying to carry out the conservation work, Avertino has a PIR to save the low-lying heritage fields. “To start with we have taken up three villages, Succuro, Sangolda and Guirim, and we have been given a favourable order from the High Court to demolish all illegal structures which are built in the fields. These are projects which we’re actively involved in right now,” stated Avertino.
He pointed out that being a coastal State, Goa has a lot of mangroves, “These mangrove areas are breeding grounds for fish and there’s a lot of biodiversity present in these areas. If the mangroves are destroyed, the natural barriers against any storms and flooding get destroyed, leading to coastal villages like Merces where salt pans are being affected. These areas get flooded, posing a danger to human beings.”
Cutting up the mangroves and filling the low-lying paddy fields will cause tremendous disasters as these Khazan lands act as sponges according to biodiversity activists. “These lands absorb the rain, if we remove these sponges where will the water go? People will drown and die. We need to save our mangroves, our bandhs and our Khazan lands, and not fill them up with debris,” stated an environmentalist.
An Amchem Mollem campaigner recalled the three Tamnar projects which intended to create destruction to forested areas and biodiversity in Mollem. “Last month we celebrated the two-year anniversary of the triumph of the Mollem campaign, we managed to preserve our rich resources. The Amche Mollem campaign which gained recognition at the state, national and even international levels helped spread awareness about the ill effects that the Tamnar projects would pose to biodiversity in Goa, even affecting the Western Ghats, and we’re glad to have saved these natural resources,” said the campaigner, one among the 30 that joined hands together in this project.
The campaigners worked with legal advisors and took the case to the Court, which turned in favour of Goans in preserving the forested areas. “The Western Ghats are important as we receive our rainfall due to the forested coverage and it is filled with unique species which aren’t available,” the campaigner added.
Working to preserve forested areas and coastal zones, Rainbow Warriors, a federation of local communities and grassroot organisations stands beside the defenders of ecologically sensitive areas. Diana Tavares of Rainbow Warriors stated, "The struggles we are involved in are numerous, right from the preparation of CZMPs, we have worked with over 100 villages and panchayats to prepare correct CZMPs showing environmental, economic and social features. Our work has led us to fight hotels, marinas which violate the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).”
The Rainbow Warriors also fight to save forests, half of which are not even identified. “We need to conserve agricultural lands, which we have undertaken under Regional Plan 2021 and revenue laws. We work to protect flood prevention in low-lying areas too,” added Diana.