Friday 14 June 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Economy | Mining

Mining & builders cause floods


Sanam Vinayak Naik, the eight-year schoolgoer, was sitting in his uncle's shop in Ponda (famous for temples in Goa) with his mother, waiting for the rains to stop. Skipping his mother's eyes, he ran out to play in the water flowing on the road, not realising how strong the flow was. His body was found the next day…

He was not simply a victim of the heavy downpours that have created havoc in the tourist state for the last three days. The sole reason for it are the unplanned mushrooming constructions, which have come up in almost all the cities, towns and coastal villages, leaving no space for the rain water to flow.

The dream to sell rain drops to the tourists this year is being washed away with record-breaking rains hitting the tourist state. In fact it is difficult even for a Goan to move around in any city or a coastal village today, thanks to the 'artificial flood' created by the miners and the builders here.

With heavy downpour crossing all the limits, the blunder created by these powerful lobbies that control all the greedy selfish politicians here is fully exposed. Prime towns like Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, Ponda and port town of Vasco have virtually turned into lakes.

Unlike average rainfall of 87 cms, Goa recorded 117 cms in June alone this year. July was the worst, recording 103 cms in just eight days when its normal average for the whole month has been only 100 cms all these years. It is still pouring, now added with strong winds, not to stop at least for the next 24 hours.

Normal life in any village or a city is obviously disrupted with overflowing rivers making houses flooded and even getting collapsed in low line areas, trees getting uprooted everywhere, roads getting disappeared under water, hundreds of people getting displaced and the death toll reaching seven in just two days.

Even chief minister Francisco Sardinha now does not deny the fact that concrete jungle is the prime cause of most of the cities getting flooded. In fact Friday's Assembly session was wholly dominated by this issue. Surprisingly, almost all the politicians were seen cursing the builders, pretending to be having no hand in it.

But it was a tussle between different groups of builders' lobbies that started Goa's famous musical chair game since 1990, changing 11 governments in 10 years. Each and every lobby tried to get maximum amount of agricultural land converted for housing, resulting into eating up the 'natural reservoirs' that stored the rain water.

"In Margao alone around two lakh square metres of paddy fields have been filled up, causing the floods", says Digambar Kamat, the power minister and MLA from Margao, which is still under water since 6 July. In fact the authorities themselves have filled up quite a few paddy fields for buildings, sports stadium and bus stand here.

Manohar Parrikar, his BJP colleague representing Panaji, points out at clogged nallahs and drains in the city, due to which the tourist city gets flooded with continuous showers for one hour. Even deputy chief minister Dayanand Narvekar admits that most of the drains are filled by the builders, leaving no space for water to flow down to the rivers.

No city, town or the coastal village is different from this in any manner. Residential buildings and market complexes have come up just on the side of any road by filling up the existing drains. In fact the whole coastal belt stands as an unplanned concrete jungle today with farming activity also becoming a history.

While politicians were warned in the past about the possible disaster due to destruction of natural reservoirs by filling up the fields, revenue minister Mauvin Godinho makes a 'bold' statement now, after a decade, that no more land conversions would be allowed, for the simple reason that the high court has recently banned it.

The hinterland, though not targeted by the builders, has become a direct victim of four-decade long mining activity, ruining the whole green belt into pollution-infected zone. The first stroke of heavy rains on 11 June played havoc in at least two such talukas of Bicholim and Sattari.

Hundreds of houses got flooded and collapsed, making life of the locals there miserable for over a week. The cause of it was also heaps of mining rejects blocking the flow of water and mining silt that has narrowed the depth of all the rivers.

The mining lobby, which has been traditionally controlling all the governments, is very cool on the issue in spite of some villagers stoning the mining offices. The chief minister is now awaiting central aid of Rs 90 lakh to desilt one Valvanti river alone in the mining belt.

Deputy chief minister Narvekar, while addressing the National Water Council meeting in Delhi on 7 July, informed that Goa has forwarded different proposals of over Rs 131 crore for flood control measures and protection of the coastline.

It includes Rs 12.20 crore for desilting nallahs and repairing canals of Anjune irrigation project, Rs 63.85 crore for improving bunds to protect 20,000 hectares of 'khazan' land and Rs 55 crore for protecting Goa's famous coastline.

Till then, floods could be yet another attraction for the tourists visiting Goa during monsoons while locals will have no other alternative than rebuilding their houses every season after getting flooded, collapsed or getting washed away. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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