The issue of Bondvoll lake, which is locked in a controversy over an ownership dispute, figured at the gram sabha of St Cruz panchayat on Sunday with a member pleading that the water body be saved for future generations.
In a recent judgment, the district judge has directed water resources department (WRD) to withdraw a tender issued in January, 2010, for development of the lake at a cost of Rs 3.59 crore, ruling it as interference in the property, as a tenant has been declared deemed purchaser with rights of the property.
WRD has also been permanently restrained from doing any work in the area (TOI, February 25, 2013).
A gram sabha member, Peter Pires, reminded the members about the impending water crisis and pleaded that the lake be saved for future generations. The WRD's project envisaged strengthening of the leaking 200m long bundh of the lake. The dam with a capacity of 1,500 million litres irrigated 120 hectares of agricultural land at one stage and kept the ground water table high.
Pires sought to know what action the panchayat had initiated in the context of a resolution adopted by the gram sabha a couple of years back, regarding restriction of development around the lake's periphery. Sarpanch Tony Fernandes said the water of the lake was not useful, but Pires insisted that the water body was an asset for future generations.
He pleaded that the lake had to be saved. A tenant who was tilling 550 sq m area on the lake's water bed had been declared 'deemed purchaser' of the entire property, though there were 26 tenants, earlier.
A village level committee revising the draft regional plan 2021 had suggested two years back that the lake area be declared as heritage landscape and the settlement area marked around it be kept as open space.
The villagers had also opposed a housing project of 133 flats in an area of 33,478 sq m on a slope with a steep gradient in the lake's vicinity.
The gram sabha members adopted a resolution to retain the house tax while opposing the government move to scrap its collection by panchayats after Reggie Gomes raised the issue during the meeting. [TOI]