Forest protection, trees and the environment vs. development tussle
Claude Alvares states that middle-aged people are not interested in preserving the planet’s future. Sattari & Sanguem have lost nearly 20k hectares of forest, but forest dwellers have been there for generations. Harishchandra Gawas batting to protect local land rights. Mohan Kumar asserts that everyone needs to play the role of activist to save the environment.
PANJIM – In the next two or three years, Goa will witness massive development. Will this result in a major assault upon land and the environment Major infrastructure projects and highway constructions are planned for Goa. The Mormugao Ports Authority’s constitution will have major implications for Goa. The MPA will be able carry out development work without having to comply with state authorities or environmental regulations. To make matters worse, the forest department has been found lacking and is perceived to be supporting tree fellers. Where do we stand in this situation? To save the environment, citizens will have to fight it out in court.
Rajendra Kerkar, an environmentalist, said that the future is bleak if deforestation is allowed. Kerkar claimed that Sattari lost 8814 ha of tree cover between 1960 and 1980 and Sanguem lost 9933 ha. This was before the Forest Conservation Act was in force. Even after the Forest Conservation Act was passed, large areas of forest were still lost. Where will water come from if this goes on? The forests are responsible for water. Groundwater is recharged by tree cover. We will have landslides if we lose our tree cover. Kerkar pointed to the fact that there were landslides in Satrem and Ambeachem Gaval, Karmali Budru, Zharme, and Karmali Budru. “This is because Karnataka permitted deforestation, and the silt came up and caused loss (to the Goa side).
Heavy rains and Satrem Hill have brought about landslides this year. But how can you claim that there were landslides within the Karmali area? Harishchandra Gawas from Sattari Bhumiputra Sanghatna was questioned. He replied that no one had ever ventured into the thick forest for more than 40 year. So how is it possible to claim there are landslides there. he questioned. He claimed that the rainwater actually came from the mountain’s bottom.
“Unscientific pruning of trees before the monsoons is affecting many trees in the urban landscape and in the urban environment” Mohan Kumar from Living Heritage Foundation pointed out that trees are actually dying or are already dead. He stated that those who prune trees are doing a poor job. There is no supervision and no proper application of the mind while doing it. “There are not guidelines. We (Living Heritage Foundation), want to take it to the court. Kumar suggested that we might conduct a thorough study to determine what needs to be done. It is necessary for the government to appoint a committee to study the problem and resolve it.
Director of Goa Foundation, Claude Alvares, stated that the decision-making regarding the felling trees should be left to the next generation. He stated that the current generation is unable to protect forests and wildlife. They will compromise at any moment. The future of forests and the country’s survival depends on the decision-making process being passed to the next generation.
“The future is not in the hands of the old generation. Even if every tree is destroyed, they will be content as long they can make money. The older generation is a waste of time and should not be involved with these decisions. The impact of large-scale tree cutting on the ecology and climate will be severe. Alvares stated that only those younger than 20 and 30 years should be allowed to decide whether to cut trees. “They will have to face the consequences of climate change.”
Harishchandra Gawas spoke out about the man-animal conflict at Sattari. He said that animals are entering villages to attack cattle and destroy fields. He stated that there was a morcha in Sattari calling for such animals to be declared vermin and their deaths. Harishchandra claimed Sattari Bhumiputra Sanghtana helped to save the animals.
Harishchandra also raised the issue of monocultures and aforestation that is threatening the forests. We hold the forest department accountable for this. They are planting unwelcome trees in the forest, such as Acacia. The forest has been destroyed by the dept, as well as the vegetation that the animals ate. He suggested that instead of planting acacia trees, plant fruit-bearing plants.
Mohan Kumar stated that “To save the environment and the environment, everyone must assume the role of an activist.” Everyone must realize that this is everyone’s fight, particularly the younger generation. They should speak up and spread awareness. We must keep fighting.”
Rajendra Kerkar stated, “We have been telling government for almost two decades to stop monocultures in afforestation.” When planting trees, we must consider the geography and the climatic conditions. Problems can also be caused by fruit-bearing trees. It is important to plant all trees that are needed in the area.
It will be very difficult to obtain water if the forest is not protected. Protecting forests should be the priority. Rajendra Kerkar said that not all rights should go to the next generations because even the next generation wants the forest to be cut down.