22nd April 2009 was observed as "Earth Day" by the Navelim Civic & Consumer Forum together with GOACAN and various NGOs from Goa and local villagers and other Forums from South Goa near the Saipem Tollem, at the entrance of the Sewage Treatment Plant at Sirvodem, Navelim.
Pledging to protect nature from indiscriminate destruction were representatives of Nuvem,Davorlim, Cuncolim, Velim Forums, Citizen Welfare Committee, Nisarg Nature Club, MARG and other NGOs from Colva and Benaulim who joined hands in the resolve.
NCCF Volunteer Mr. Sidarth Karapurkar highlighted the efforts put in
by Navelim Forum to get Pollution Control Board to test the water in
the lake, whose report confirms the high level of contamination in the
Sandeep Azrenkar of Nisarg Nature Club spoke of the migratory birds
that used to visit the lake earlier and have stopped now because of
the polluted waters. He mentioned that the Forest department has taken over the Carambolim lake and the same needs to be done here.
Local residents Cruz Rodrigues and Teotonio D’Silva reminded the people of the earlier times when they used swim in the waters especially during the hot summers and the amount of fish they would
catch in the lake.
They lamented that Navelim has to bear the brunt of the unplanned development happening in Margao Town. They along with many other local villagers complained that the authorities are doing precious little to solve this menace.
Many poor villagers also complained that their fields are totally spoilt and they can’t even step inside as they get severe rash on their legs. They are now forced to buy rice from shops, whereas they were self sufficient earlier. Who is paying us compensation for this loss? They wondered.
Forum Secretary Joseph L. R. Vaz mentioned that this is not a small problem as a lot of big fish are involved. A sustained long term movement is required and a proper co-ordination between different departments is needed like Pollution Control Board, Margao Municipality, PWD, Sewage Corporation, Water Resources Dept., Department of Science, Technology & Environment (DSTE), TCP, SGPDA, Collectors office, local Panchayats, etc.
Navelim Sarpanch Paolo Pereira told the people that he is happy that a
lot of people are taking interest now. He said that the movement has to grow and that Government listens only when a lot of people make noise. He assured full support for the movement from his Panchayat. Ramona Almeida, Convenor of Velim Forum expressed her support for the restoration of river Sal.
River Sal which runs through Salcete through many villages needs urgent attention. Recently a local newspaper has carried series of articles by Scientist Dr. Nandkumar Kamat on the history of river Sal, and how it slowly started getting polluted over the years due to neglect and improper and unplanned development and the effect and damage to environment.
Roland Martins Convenor of GOACAN, reminded the people specially the
ones staying in flats that every time they use the flush in the toilet, heir toilet gets cleaned but that dirty water is carried away to damage some other land. “These Western type toilets are causing a huge damage to the environment all over the world and people are looking for alternatives”.
He pointed to many villages where huge buildings have come up next to small houses of Goans and a person staying on the 4th floor uses his flush and the dirty waters travels down and enters the house of the poor Goan next door, courtesy the overflowing Septic Tanks and soak pits all over Goa. He told the people that it is no easy task to get the Government machinery moving but if people are united, than nothing is impossible.
He told the people that along with the Government action, people’s co-operation is also required. It is the people themselves who are releasing their sewage into drains least bothered as to where it goes. It is the people only, who drink mineral water and dump the bottles into drains.
It is the people only, who dump their daily garbage into rivers or drains during early morning or late evening when nobody is watching.
Lorna Fernandes, Convenor of Cuncolim Forum proposed some 10 resolutions which were unanimously adopted by the gathering.