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Biodiversity board conducts inspection of western bypass at Benaulim

Benaulim: The Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB) held a joint inspection of the western bypass stretch passing through Benaulim on Wednesday along with four other state departments to ascertain the facts on ground and obtain suggestions.

The inspection held on Wednesday saw member secretary GSBB Pradip Sarmokadam, Water Resources Department (WRD) executive engineer Ankush Gaonkar, Town and Country Planning Department’s (TCP) deputy town planner Riteish Shirodkar, the survey department’s field surveyor Mandar Phadte and agriculture department’s Zonal Agriculture Officer Anil Noronha along with

panch members, sarpanch, ZP member and locals from Benaulim.

The inspection covered the areas where work on the bypass has already begun in Rebod as well as near Tolleband where work is yet to start. Department officials as well as locals visited the sites and noted the ground facts including the stench of sewage released in the water body where the work has already begun.

Locals pointed out that the pond was a site for pisciculture but said the releasing of sewage into the water body was having disastrous effects on culturing of the fish. Speaking about the inspection and the damage, local resident and former sarpanch Royla Fernandes said it would be difficult to revive the water body.

“The biodiversity board has seen the damage done by the department and the government by draining sewage into the river. It will be very difficult to rejuvenate the entire belt. The member secretary of the board was deeply saddened and said he would talk to the department about the destruction. There should have been measures taken before,” she said.

Sarmokadam after the inspection asked each of the departments to submit their reports with suggestions and observations to the board which will then be compiled and submitted to the environment minister Nilesh Cabral, who had initially directed the board to do the inspection. He also suggested marking certain areas like the Tolleband area as a vulnerable area due to the risk of flooding.

On November 14 children from Benaulim had highlighted the risks of the bypass passing on the ground and the destruction of the natural resources and biodiversity of the area while locals have been demanding the 2.7 kilometre stretch to be built on stilts. The report of Wednesday’s inspection is expected to be completed and presented to the minister by December 20.

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