Launching the first phase of dredging of River Sal, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Tuesday said that the lifeline of Salcete taluka can return to its past glory with a tremendous potential for tourism and river transport.
Stating that fish and birds will return to the river once the water is cleaned, Parsekar said with beautification of the banks, the river will have tremendous potential for tourism which could be tapped. He said that the river can also be used for inland waterways, which is the cheapest form of transportation as was done in the past. He said that if transportation by road costs Rs 2, the same will cost Re 1 by railways. “However, through waterways, transportation of the same product will cost only Rs 0.25,” Parsekar said.
Charging the previous governments of allowing the river to get deteriorated, Parsekar said that the dredging exercise should have been carried out 15 years back. He said the state had seen many chief ministers and nearly 70 per cent of the cabinet ministers from Salcete, yet they failed to pay attention to the basic requirements of the taluka like improving the sewerage treatment plant and carrying out dredging of River Sal.
The first phase of dredging of the six-km stretch of the river is expected to be completed in 120 days. Parsekar said that not just the six-km stretch but the entire river should be dredged.
Stating that he had inspected the sewerage treatment plant along with Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado at Sirvodem, Parsekar said that PWD officials have assured that the plant will become operational from March onwards. However, he said that he was willing to give another two months as buffer period to make the plant operational latest by May 2016. “Once the treatment plant is operational, people should apply for connections and stop discharging sewage in the River Sal,” said Parsekar and added that the BJP-led government is committed to all-round development of the state and has taken up works like development of roads and bridges.
The Chief Minister also carried out a survey of the River Sal by taking a ride in a motorised boat along with Furtado, Benaulim MLA Caetano Silva, Velim MLA Benjamin Silva and Captain of Ports James Braganza.