Ahead Of Polls, Goa’s Green Groups Want Parties To Put The State’s Environment First

Goa's environmentalists, a coalition of many environmental campaigners, have published a green manifesto insisting that political groups accept a viable vision for the coming years of Goa in front of the assembly polls, keen to have their opinion heard and their claims supported by political groups.

The Goa Heritage Action Group, the Responsible Tourism Collective, Goyant Kollso Naka, Morjim Sea Turtle Trust, and other organisations produced a manifesto urging candidates and parties to adopt a vision of growth based on indigenous cultural, scientific, and legal principles that we people would like to see in Goa.

The manifesto's key goals include cancelling the three infrastructure initiatives that pass through the Western Ghats: the flyover, the railway extension, and the utility pole, as well as stopping Goa's mining sector and protecting the diverse habitats in Goa, such as the coastal and wetland habitats, Western Ghats forests, and a desire to cease categorising Goa's thinly treed lateritic plateaus that are mostly meadows as a land of trash.

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With the unpredictable rains, floods, and epidemics, Malaika Mathew Chawla, an ecologist who was part of the team that produced the manifesto, stated that the residents of Goa are more conscious than ever of how environmental destruction is affecting their wellness and lifestyle. They must see how those who represent them in the current administration would respond to these concerns. Their Twitter storm is a significant step forward in this approach.

Their requests include LED fishing, the phase-out of bottom trawling, and other extractive fisheries management from Goan waters, which are harmful to the marine ecosystem and result in large bycatch of non-commercial creatures like turtles, as well as the preparation of specialised comprehensive disaster control strategies for the safety of coastal towns and infrastructure from sea level rise and global warming.

Update the CZMP to add missing or poorly mapped habitats such as fishing ponds,  dunes, seagrass beds, seaweed forests, bird feeding sites, seaweed, and coral reefs, as well as to guarantee that tourist activity is managed and certain beaches are permitted to keep natural flora and ecosystems.

Freshwater wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate, and they must be discovered, preserved, and restored as soon as possible. Many additional freshwater bodies around the state, like the Salvador do Mundo wetlands and Batim Lake, must be reported as authorized wetlands under the 2017 wetland management guidelines. Estuarine habitats, such as khazan fields and mangrove forests, must be protected since they are both productive and fragile. Apart from the fact that these systems are dependent on them for climate regulation, food production, and other purposes, Goa's major cities, as well as many nature-based tourist facilities and related livelihoods, are located on or near them, necessitating strategic planning and better planning of these systems.

The organizations have urged that Goa's stony outcrop ecosystems, grasslands, marshes and pasturelands be omitted from the Wasteland Atlas of India, in a jab at the Goa administration for planning infrastructure initiatives on rocky plateaus while treating them as wasteland.

According to the manifesto, there are a variety of underappreciated ecosystems that are treated as wastelands for administrative reasons. These habitats are mapped as worthless land to be transformed for industrial usage, agricultural usage in India's Wasteland Atlas. Nevertheless, ecosystems like the dunes of Goa, laterite plateaus are one-of-a-kind environments with diverse fauna and flora that serve as important carbon sinks.