Seraulim villagers complained that sewage water from river enters fields when flow is stopped
Photo Credits: Santosh Mirajkar
Government agencies in Thursday saw for themselves how sewage water has contaminated the river Sal as they tried to reassure beleaguered farmers from Seraulim that the gates of the barrage erected on the river near the wholesale fish market will not be shut for water storage.
While representatives of agencies, including the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), Water Resources Department (WRD) and Agriculture appeared helpless in working out a solution to the burning sewage issue, Seraulim farmers have pinned their hopes on the WRD officials that the gates of the barrage will not be closed when they go about cultivating the fields in the coming season
For, these beleaguered farmers had a bitter experience some months back after the flow of water in the river Sal was blocked to build the barrage earlier this year, with the back flow of water devastating the paddy fields and the water bodies with sewage water.
Thursday saw officials of the WRD and the GSPCB patiently hearing the woes of the farmers and citizens at the meeting called by the Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas at the Seraulim Panchayat and later during the site inspection.
Villagers point blank told the MLA and the WRD officials that sewage water from the river Sal enters the Seraulim fields when the water flow in the river is stopped at the barrage near the wholesale fish market. Citizens including Stanley Fernandes, Kevin D’Souza and others made a fervent plea to the MLA and the WRD officials to save their fields from being inundated by the sewage waters by not closing the barrage gates this year.
When a WRD official pointed out that the gates of the barrage have not been shut as of now, the farmers and citizens said the back water flow from the river takes place only when the gate is closed for storage. “Sewage water had entered out fields some months back from the river Sal through the natural water ways when the barrage was shut. Most of the water bodies were devastated with sewage water. Even cattle had refused to drink the water”, Stanley pointed out.
After much discussions, the Benaulim MLA conceded that multiple issues are affecting the Seraulim farmers, including the contentious issue of entry of sewage water into the fields from the river when the gates of the barrage are closed.
Venzy said the WRD has agreed not to close the gate of the barrage for the moment, further pointing out that the WRD will take up the work of opening of the natural water flows in the village. “What has been agreed today are only temporary measures so that the sewage water from the river Sal does not enter the Seraulim fields in the coming season”, he said.
He added: “We had taken up the issue of river Sal pollution by the 7-8 storm nallahs from Margao last year. Sadly, the issue is not resolved till date. I had come up with a suggestion to introduce geo-bag technology as a temporary measure, but the government says it cannot spend huge funds on the geobag technology since it is a temporary solution”.
He charged that government in indulging in the criminal offense of contaminating the river Sal with the storm water nallas since it is of the view that money would go waste on temporary measures.