Goas Environmental activists, a group made up of several environmental campaign groups, released a green manifesto requesting that political parties adopt a sustainable vision for Goa’s future.
A number of groups, including the Goa Heritage Action Group and Goyant Kollso Naka (“No coal in Goa”), the Responsible Tourism Collective and Morjim Sea Turtle Trust, released a manifesto requesting that candidates and parties agree to a vision that Goa citizens want, rooted in local scientific, cultural and legal values.
The manifesto includes key demands such as the scrapping of three infrastructure projects — the flyover, the railway expansion, and the power line that cut through Goa’s Western Ghats. It also calls for the protection of Goa’s ecosystems including the Western Ghats forests and the coastal and wetland ecosystems. There is also a demand that Goa’s thinly treed lateritic plateaus, which are largely grasslands, be stopped being treated as wasteland.
People of Goa are acutely aware of the environmental degradation that is affecting their livelihood and health. They must see that the people they elect to represent them in government will address these issues. Our tweet storm is a step in that direction, Malaika Mathewchawla, an ecologist and a member the team that drafted this manifesto, said.
They want to see an end to bottom trawling and LED fishing from Goan waters. This is a destructive fishing practice that can be harmful for marine ecology. It also results in large bycatch from non-commercial species such as turtles.
CZMP update to include missing or poorly mapped ecosystems, eg. sand dunes and fishing ponds, fish beds, seagrass beds, bird foraging areas and seaweed forests, coral reefs, and to ensure that tourists are regulated and some beaches are allowed retain natural vegetation and ecosystems.
The rapid loss of freshwater wetlands is alarming and should be addressed. According to the 2017 wetland regulations, many more freshwater bodies should be registered as official wetlands. Conservation of estuarine ecosystems such as khazan lands, mangrove forests and mangrove forests is essential because they are both highly productive and extremely vulnerable (especially to climate change). These systems are crucial for food production, climate regulation, and other related livelihoods. Goa’s major cities, as well as many nature-based tourism activities, and associated livelihoods, are located on or near them. Better planning and management is required.
The groups demanded that the Wasteland Atlas of India be removed from Goa’s rocky outcrop habitats and pasturelands. This was in protest at the Goa government’s plans to build infrastructure on rocky plateaus.
Many ecosystems are neglected and are therefore considered to be wastelands. These ecosystems are designated by the Wasteland Atlas of India, as unproductive land that can be converted for agricultural and industrial use. These ecosystems, like the laterite plateaus or sand dunes in Goa, are unique areas with rich fauna and often vital carbon sinks, according to the manifesto.
Although they are considered wastelands by the Goa government, several projects have been planned by the Goa government. These include industrial estates and the new International Airport at Goa.
Other environmental groups such as the Goa Foundation have launched the Goenchi Matei (Soil of Goa), manifesto requesting that iron ore mining in Goa be resumed only if it benefits the people of Goa and not the mining companies.
People of Goa have suffered a lot from the way Iron Ore Mining was conducted in the state over many decades by successive governments. This is primarily due to a system where the government has granted mining leases without auctions or using any competitive bidding process. Rahul Basu, of the Goa Foundation, said that this was a result of the Goenchi Mati movement.
The Goenchi Mati Movement has advocated for a different approach to mining. This would include either direct state mining or leasing to parties through fair and transparent auctions. The real earnings from such mining or auctions would be distributed to Goa annually as a dividend. Also, the funds real earnings would be distributed to Goa every year.
The manifesto has been supported by the Aam Aadmi Party in the past and the Trinamool Congress in the present.
A third manifesto, the Citizens Manifesto, required that the people be consulted prior to any significant government decisions. This halted rapid urbanization in Goa, halted haphazard clearances of construction, and shifted coastal development to renewable energy.
We are disappointed that no political party has been capable of understanding the needs, vision, and legitimate rights of the land, people, and people of Goa. This is something for which we will struggle, Abhijitprabhudesai, who was one of those who drafted this manifesto said.