The Goa State Wetland Authority has decided to declare as a wetland the Bondvol lake in Santa Cruz village of Tiswadi taluka.
The decision was taken at the sixth meeting of the GSWA, which was chaired by Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral, who is also the chairman of the authority.
The GSWA members attending the meeting arrived at a unanimous opinion that the Bondvol lake must be preserved and that disposal of liquid and solid waste into the lake must not be allowed.
The member secretary of the GSWA informed that the Bondvol lake has been selected as one amongst 130 wetlands in the country as part of the ‘transformative ideas within 100 days’ programme of the central government.
It was argued at the meeting by a member representing the water resources department and others that as per the Wetlands (Preservation and Management) Rules 2017, the Bondvol lake can’t be considered as wetland: it is a manmade structure with ‘bed cultivation’ and that its water is used for irrigation.
The chief engineer of the WRD, member secretary of the Goa State Pollution Control Board, the revenue secretary, the director of the Remote Sensing Centre and the chief town planner opined that the Bondvol lake being a manmade structure
it may not qualify to be declared as a wetland.
However, Dr G V Nayak of the Goa University pointed out that larger picture has to be seen as there is a dependent downstream area which totally qualifies for the declaration as a wetland; the Bondvol lake is the source for the dependent wetland area.
Former scientist of the National Institute of Oceanography and expert member of the GSWA Dr Vinod Dhargalkar said the lake is only supported with a traditionally constructed wall where local materials are used. The wall acts as an embankment from only one side; there is a natural advantage of geological setup having perennial springs at the bottom bed. Hence the lake qualifies as a manmade wetland and has ecological characteristics like the presence of avifauna, fish, fauna and other features, which was observed during a site visit.
Devanand Kavlekar from the NIO, who is an expert member, also said that the lake water has many uses including for groundwater recharge, dependent temple ponds and wells in the downstream and the vicinity.
The use of water is not constant at all times. Hence such a reservoir can be preserved only if it is declared as a wetland, Kavlekar reckoned.
Prof Pranab Mukhopadhyay of the GU drew attention to ecological services offered by a wetland, stressing on the need to have larger perspectives from the context of ecology and economy of water as vital resource.
The members objected to the argument put forward by Adv Asha Desai, representing Hirabai Kavlekar, who claimed to be tenant of the property, that water entering the Bondvol water body just flows down and there are no wells dependent on the lake.
The members deliberated on the issue. They unanimously agreed that there are open wells within the Bondvol area and also temple tanks and other existing open structures for flow of water from the lake, which also results in groundwater recharge and act as a source to other downstream water bodies.
Thus the lake serves as an ecosystem and a host to a variety of flora, fauna and other dependent biodiversity.
The GSWA has said the ministry of environment forests and climate change has listed the lake in the list of 130 wetlands for priority restoration in the next five years.
The authority has prepared a brief document that has integrated management plan for restoration and protection of the lake and its water quality. The plan has got the approval of the state government. However, final notification is awaited.
The authority will prepare estimates for restoration work of the lake so as to submit it to the Union environment ministry for funds along with wetland health card and details on ‘Wetland Mitras’ (group of self-motivated individuals).