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Loutolim villagers fear draft CZMP could spell doom

The draft CZMP has triggered panic among coastal villagers as it contains inaccuracies. Beginning today ‘The Navhind Times’  will carry a series of reports highlighting people’s concerns over the draft plan

ROQUE DIAS |NT

Margao

The villagers living along the Zuari bank at Loutolim are a worried lot because their paddy fields, khazan lands and thousands of houses have not been shown in the draft CZMP. 

This reporter toured the village along with a couple of panchayat members meeting villagers to gauge their sentiments on the draft CZMP, which has been rejected by the government after hue and cry was raised by the people.

The villagers expressed their apprehensions over the CZMP map, which has not shown khazan lands and houses located along the Zuari riverbank. The anxious villagers do not know as what is in store for their houses and traditional fishing activities that have been carried out over generations.

“My house is located along the riverbank. I have lived here for the last 70 years. Our houses have not been shown on the CZMP. Tomorrow the government will say that the houses are illegal, and may demolish them,” Joaquim Fernandes of Rassaim said worryingly.

Hundreds of houses doting along the riverbank – from Rassaim to Vaxem – have not been shown in the CZMP. The arable land and under the plough land – eight to ten lakh sq mt of khazan lands – have been shown falling in the waters.

This is because the coastal regulation zone line has been shown beyond the paddy fields and houses; the high tide line has been wrongly depicted along the riverbank, pushing the CRZ line farther. 

The draft CZMP, which was prepared by the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, raised many hackles in the state after it was notified by the government.

A public hearing had been scheduled on July 7 for the people of South Goa in Margao for raising objections. However, NGOs, social activists, environmentalists and politicians went hammer and tongs at the draft plan picking holes in it.

“I do not know the motive behind drawing up the faulty CZMP.  If this plan is accepted then thousands of Loutolim villagers will be displaced,” village development committee convenor Ramiro Mascarenhas reckoned.

He accused Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral of riding roughshod over people’s concerns.

Xavier Fernandes, a panch of the Rassaim panchayat, said that fishing activities are carried out along the riverbank, which has been shown as the “Mandavi river”. 

Fernandes said the government does not have proper and updated data on the locations.

“How can a plan be drafted based on the obsolete data,” he asked.

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