JOAO SOUSA M | NT
Margao: Even as Chandor village is known for its rich heritage, including heritage homes, the controversial draft coastal zone management plan (CZMP), in its original form, could spell doom for the village, as it threatens to displace two entire wards of the village while also casting its spell on several heritage structures.
The plan prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, based on 1971 plans, shows nil structures with no human habitation within the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) line. However, the ground reality portrays a completely different picture. As many as 100 to 150 houses, some of which are over 300 years old, have been completely ignored. These houses come within the CRZ line and are spread across two wards. The wards VI and VII get directly affected by the draft CZMP.
As per the information available, nearly 500-600 residents will be directly affected by the newly marked High Tide Line as per the draft CZMA. That is not all, an old chapel, believed to be a few hundred years old, in ward VI, is shown within the CRZ line. The draft plan, which has ignored traditional occupations, will also affect 25 traditional fishermen and over 15 families that till date carry out farming activities near the Kushawati river.
The village panchayat recently held a special gram sabha to discuss the draft CZMP and outright rejected it on the grounds that there are many discrepancies in it, as it not only affects a large number of houses but the plan also deprives the farmers and fishermen of their basic needs. The gram sabha observed that the plan was prepared without the opinion of the villagers, village panchayat and communidade and will have an adverse effect on the people. A memorandum presented to the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) also contended that the plan will destroy the environment, fishing rights and farming rights of villagers whose life depends on fishing and farming.
Sarpanch Edward D’Silva pointed out that the plans from which the data is drawn show no habitation while actually there are several houses which could be over 100 and these will be directly affected. He said besides several heritage houses, there are houses that have legally approved plans from the town and country planning department and other agencies which will also be affected by the high tide line.
He said that the village of Chandor is known for its heritage and the mapping of the village is such that traditional activities like fishing and cultivation also form part of the village culture. He said the plan should have been prepared by holding consultations with the panchayat and the people which, he said, has not happened. He said if the government does not feel the need to hold consultations with the panchayat before drawing such plans then the government should scrap the institution of panchayat itself. “The panchayat cannot accept this plan, which has already been rejected and communicated to the government,” the sarpanch said.
Panch member Joseph Pereira, whose ward gets directly affected, said that the plan will adversely impact his ward. “It’s not only the houses which are getting affected but the people at large. People here carry out their traditional activities like cultivation of fields, toddy tapping, fishing etc which has not been shown in the plan,” he said.
A resident B Carvalho said, “My house is 200 years old and we have been living here for generations. Suddenly we come to know about the house coming under CRZ, based on the draft CZMA plan. This has come as a shock to us. We had taken up the matter with former town and country planning minister Vijai Sardesai when we were fighting to save the structures from the proposed SH8 project. We do not know what will be the outcome, we are worried.”
Two other residents Errol and Fatima Fernandes said that their house is 300 years old and they have faced a lot of hardships due to the heavy movement of traffic. “We fought tooth and nail against the controversial SH8 project to protect our heritage house, which is already suffering a lot of damage. Today, we are battling once again to fight this controversial plan. We have been holding several meetings and are closely coordinating with the panchayat. Let’s see what is the outcome,” said Fatima Fernandes.