Navigation fears in river Sal haunt boats owners again


Navigational hazards at the mouth of River Sal at Betul for want of a permanent solution has come to the fore again after a fishing boat was left damaged when it hit the sand bar at the river mouth.
The incident occurred when the fishing boat was venturing out in the sea when the vessel hit the sand bar and later rammed against a rock due to the strong undercurrents at the river mouth. The incident left the fishing vessel badly damaged, with the President of Cutbona Boat Owners Union Patrick D’Silva saying the incident is an eye opener to the government that hazards faced by the fishing vessels operating from the Betul and Cutbona fishing jetties. “We have been after the government for a long time now to work out a permanent solution to the siltation problem at the river Sal mouth, but in vain. The government had carried out dredging of the river mouth in the past, but that has not helped solve the problem,” asserted Patrick.
Mechanised boat owners have been demanding a harbour a La Malpei at the river mouth for a smooth free round-the-clock navigation of the vessels. “The fishing vessels are at the mercy of the tides. We have to wait for five hours to venture out and another five hours to enter the river mouth since navigation becomes difficult during low tides,” Patrick said.
He said the boat owners would once again take up the issue with the new government headed by Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar and Fisheries Minister, Avertano Furtado.
Incidentally, the Captain of Ports had floated a proposal around September last to take up dredging of the River Sal mouth at Betul. In fact, the Captain of Ports has sought NOCs from the panchayat of Cavelossim-Mobor, Goa State Pollution Control Board, Water Resources Department to undertake the dredging exercise.
The issue of NOC was discussed at the Cavelossim gram sabha, wherein villagers resoled that though they are not opposed to the dredging of the river mouth, the Captain of Ports should obtain all necessary NOCs from the concerned departments and carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report before approaching the panchayat body.
The fate of the dredging project, however, remains unknown, even as sources in the Fisheries department informed they are awaiting the report from the West Bengal-based consultants on the issue. [H]