Panjim July 15
In a press statement released here today, VILLAGE GROUPS OF GOA thanked Union Minister for Environment & Forests Jairam Ramesh for publicly confirming what the people of Goa have been saying for years now - that “development work had inflicted the worst damage to the environment and forests in Goa” (Herald, July 13, 2010). VILLAGE GROUPS OF GOA also congratulates Jairam Ramesh for having the courage to stand up to the “ development at any cost” brigade who have been holding sway over the functioning of the administration in the country in general and Goa in particular for many years now to the detriment of the common citizen.
Now that the Union Enviroment & Forest Minister has confirmed the devastating damage to Goa’s ecology, it is to be hoped that the Government of Goa will understand just how crucial the Regional Plan 2021 is for the preservation of Goa’s environment and natural heritage. Since the state government is taking an unconscionably long time to put in place the Regional Plan 2021, it is inexplicable why Chief Minister Digambar Kamat does not freeze approvals to large scale development projects until the Regional Plan is securely in place, particularly involving forests, hills and eco sensitive zones.
In fact, it is a matter of grave concern that the Jairam Ramesh’s counterpart in Goa State Environment Minister Aleixo Sequeira fails to see the shocking and very visible environmental degradation even as he appears not to hear the cries of the distressed people of Goa struggling to save their homeland from the ravages of rampant, mindless development and the negligence of the government authorities. Surely, the state Environment Minister is well aware of the brazen flouting of environmental laws and norms, resulting in massive hill cutting, filling of paddy fields even by his own government, discharge of raw sewage into the sea by hotels, the devastation inflicted by the mining industry on the forests and the lives and health of the unfortunate people of those villages. The state Environment Ministry should be aware that for over twenty years now, industrial estates have been functioning without any data about the kinds and quanity of garbage generated by industrial units leave alone regulation and safe disposal of such kind of garbage, giving rise to misgivings as to the kind of polluted environment we are living in and the effects the people will have to cope with in the not too distant future.
VILLAGE GROUPS OF GOA appeals to Jairam Ramesh to ensure that the Goa Government becomes pro active in sincerely administering the state and does not put the onus of upholding and enforcing the environmental laws solely upon the ordinary citizens of Goa. In fact, VILLAGE GROUPS OF GOA deplores the unhealthy trend in governance, where the administration remains passive onlookers to the flouting of rules and regulations, while the people run from pillar to post desperately seeking to uphold the rule of law, which in fact, is the job of the elected government and the administrative machinery.
VILLAGE GROUPS OF GOA wishes to make it abundantly clear that it is not against development per se. However the alarming lack of governance and absence of the rule of law, the apathy of the administration towards the open flouting of the law and sometimes its alleged connivance with law breakers has resulted in development benefits for a privileged few at the cost of the detriment and distress of the majority of the citizens, their environment, health, culture and quality of life.