On the occasion of World Wetland Day, locals including children from Benaulim took a special bird walk along the stretch of the proposed Western Bypass route highlighting the importance of the wetland and reiterating their demand for the bypass to be built on stilts. Locals have also decided to write to the Goa State Wetland Authority (GSWA) to declare the area a wetland.
A group of villagers along with their children walked along the water catchment area near Khareband that is home to several species of birds, some including migratory birds. Stressing on the need of such wetlands and its protection, children held up posters and built a mini model to show the dangers the Western Bypass posed if not built on stilts.
“Today we celebrate world wetlands day. We had approached different departments in the government and started a movement to demand for the stilts. Wetlands are an important ecosystem for migrating birds. But it is also a catchment area for water and is essential for our purposes whether it is to make water reach our wells or as a floodplain to protect our village from flooding. We are not against the bypass, but having it on stilts will be beneficial. The cost will be more but life for wetland and humanity will be long lasting,” said local resident and ex-sarpanch Royla Fernandes.
She also informed that they would be writing to GSWA to include the wetland areas of Khareband- Benaulim, parts of Adsulim and Vodlem Todem which are also huge in area to be marked and demarcated as a wetland as part of their work directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
The bird walk was organised in collaboration with the Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN) who helped identify and explain in detail the birds that visited the water body.
Vice president of GBCN, Mabel Menezes said, “Wetlands are important ecosystems that also protect from flash floods. It is a habitat and a mini sanctuary for birds, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians. Migratory birds that come from European country do so every year but becomes difficult for them if they don’t find the same area every year.” GBCN president Mandar Bhagat was also present for the bird walk.