Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Now, Seraulim locals see red over filling of land

Want to know fate of NGT-constituted panel’s recommendation to build 980 mtrs bypass on stilts

Now, Seraulim locals see red over filling of land

Even as the villagers of Benaulim have come out openly against the filling up of the low-lying areas, including ponds and water bodies for the construction of the balance portion of the western bypass, Seraulim villagers are anxious to know the fate of the recommendations made by the National Green Tribunal-constituted expert panel to build the bypass on stilts up to a stretch of 980 metres, between the wholesale fish market, Seraulim and the Mungul railway bridge.

On the plea, the NGT-appointed panel of experts have recommended construction of the bypass on stilts on the Seraulim-Mungul stretch admeasuring 980 metres, the PWD, National Highway has started filling up of the stretch with mud, insisting the land filling is for the temporary road in order to take the construction machinery towards building the 980 metres bypass on stilts.

Till date, however, villagers wondered whether NGT-appointed panel recommendations have remained as recommendations, or have the recommendations been accepted by the NGT or the High Court and now mandates the PWD to execute the 980-metre stretch of the bypass on stilts.

It was around mid-2021 that the NGT had constituted a 10-member joint committee comprising SEIAA, Goa, Goa State Biodiversity Board, Goa State Wetland Authority, PWD, Goa, Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), District Magistrate, South Goa, Water Resources Department, Goa State PCB, a nominee of National Wetland Authority and a nominee of PCCF (HoFF), Goa. The Goa State Pollution Control Board and the SEIAA, Goa were appointed the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

The panel discussed and deliberated on all the three alternative scenarios and decided to recommend the modified approach with 0.98 km elevated structure, which will lead to increase in cost of the project from present estimated cost of Rs 148.41 crore to Rs 218.94 crore approximately. The panel, however, noted the modified approach will avoid filling of water body and part diversion of river.

The recommendations made by the panel brought to the fore the stark reality and justified the demand made by the people of Seraulim, Mungul and Benaulim that no proper study nor an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was carried out before finalising the bypass alignment. For, the 980-metre elevated structure recommended by the panel will now avoid diversion of the river Sal, besides avoiding filling up of the water body along the stretch.

Questions are being raised in village circles why the PWD, NH did not take these aspects into consideration before tendering and executing the bypass work. “The government tried to bulldoze with the project by blaming the people for obstructing development. But, the recommendation made by the expert panel to build the bypass on stilts on a stretch admeasuring 980 metres between Seraulim and Mungul has only justified the battle waged by the people of Seraulim, Mungul and Benaulim that the project will devastate the ecology and the flood plains of river Sal if not built on stilts,” remarked a villager.

The villager added: “We hope and pray that the recommendations in respect of the 980 metres Seraulim-Mungul stretch is accepted in to-to and the land filling resorted to by the PWD is only for a temporary road and not to build the bypass with earthen embankment.”

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