Several organisations of traditional fisherfolk and inhabitants of coastal belt in Goa engaged in traditional occupations on Monday hit out at the Central and State governments of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming that they are against the locals and out to annihilate the fragile ecology of the tiny coastal State through massive dredging and satellite port projects. The organisations strongly opposed dredging of Goa’s rivers and proposal for satellite port of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) at Betul in south Goa. “We demand the state government to withdraw this proposal or be prepared for an ugly stir, said a joint statement issued by representatives of 13 organisations led by Olencio Simoes, Secretary of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF). “The government is bent on finishing all those who are surviving on natural resource and who have traditionally inherited this occupation for centuries, said Simoes, who is also the Joint General Secretary of Goa-based Goenche Ramponkarancho Ekvot (GRE). Agnelo Rodrigues, president of Goa-based Goenche Ramponkarancho Ekvot, lashed out at Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari for his plans to develop Goa’s inland waterways by dredging six of its rivers. He said that if the people of Goa are opposed to such projects then the Centre cannot impose it on them. Simoes said that the Government has plans to dredge up to 3 metres, which will completely destroy the marine ecology of coastal tourist State as all mangroves creeks, mangroves, swamps ,coral reefs etc along the bank of Mandovi and Zuari river will totally vanish. The organisations fear that this will create complete fish famine in the coastal State in future. Several shell species like mussel, oysters will be finished in Goa and this will totally displace the inland fishermen, said Simoes. They have also opposed proposed satellite port of the MPT at Betul to handle the transportation of bauxite, iron ore and other commodities. Imoes said that because of the MPT port, the city of Vasco was facing dust and noise pollution. In addition, there has been huge influx of migrants. Olencio claimed that 42 per cent of the country’s coast had already been washed away and the root cause was for this was unplanned ports/harbours, which had been documented by the National Institute of Port Management.

2016, The Hindu Business Line.