Fields turning into catchment areas for waste water

Will the Parrikar administration step in and free Salcete’s coastal fields from inundation by rampant discharge of waste waters?

Indeed, farmers and social activists along the coast are up in arms over the contamination of their paddy fields.

Farmers and villagers from Majorda earlier this week joined their Betalbatim and Colva counterparts in demanding an immediate stop the discharge of hotel waste in the fields. Earlier, similar demands had reverberated along the Benaulim and Varca coast in the past with villagers accusing the hotel industry for discharge waste in the traditional water channels.

Says Sylvester Vaz, who has taken up cudgels for the affected farmers from Majorda:

 “We are awaiting the Goa State Pollution Control Board to give their findings on the inspection of the fields. The farmers may even opt for re-inspection. This time, the farmers are determined to get the authorities set things right”.

A woman farmer Flora Fernandes said she has stopped cultivating the fields, adding that no one is willing to set foot in the polluted fields. “For four years, we have been waging a battle against the waste discharge and contamination, but in vain”, she lamented.

Former Betalbatim Sarpanch Marcus D’Souza echoed similar sentiments. “Farmers and villagers from Betalbatim have demanded that the Board check the waste discharge.

It is destroying the eco-system and the environment. Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar should take note of the sentiments of the coastal farmers”, he said.

When contacted, GSPCB Member Secretary Levinson Martins felt that the waste discharge in the fields can take place only if the Sewage Treatment Plants fail to function or the hoteliers discharge the waste without treatment. “GSPCB teams have inspected fields at Betalbatim and Majorda and are analyzing the situation. Action, if any, will be recommended by the Board as per the law”, he added.

Incidentally, questions are raised over the silence of the health department in taking pro-active role in tackling the waste discharge under the Public Health Act.  [H]