Thursday , 20 February 2020
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Need for maintaining sand dunes highlighted

BENAULIM: Even as the villagers of several coastal Salcete villages have passed resolutions opposing the CRZ 2018 notification during the gram sabhas of their respective panchayats, the Centre for Responsible Tourism (CRT) held an awareness meet of South Goa people earlier last week in Benaulim.

Speaking at the meeting, former NIO scientist Dr Antonio Mascarenhas came down strongly against the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification 2018 and called for the need for maintaining sand dunes.

Mascarenhas listed drawbacks of the notification and urged the people to raise objections to it.

He highlighted the need for coastal setbacks and the importance of maintaining no development zone (NDZ) for preservation of sensitive and fragile ecosystems.

In his presentation, the scientist pointed out various aspects of the notification. He said that though the emphasis on maintenance of ecosystems is a good aspect of the notification, the elimination of coastal buffer zones and urbanisation of the coast are a cause of concern.

He also spoke about the classification of CRZ III areas based on population density of more than 2,161 per kilometre as per the 2011 census that allows no development zone (NDZ) to be shifted from 200 metres to 50 metres.

“Reducing the NDZ from 200 to 50 metres based on the population density seems vague as there is no scientific reasoning for the number 2,161 per kilometre. It will only create confusion if it is implemented,” he said.

Caution was also raised over the destruction of sand dunes all along Salcete’s coast.  Comparing the coast with a map of 1964, it was shown that there were large tracts of sand dunes that are destroyed and in place of which hotels and resorts have been built.

“Sand dunes are nature’s first line of defence and the beach is actually the property of nature. We are lucky that the beach erosion is repaired to some extent, but if this continues our beaches will be destroyed. People should demand restoration of destroyed sand dunes,” stated Mascarenhas.

For conserving sand dunes, he said that several proposals for sand dune parks at Morjim were submitted to the government but nothing has happened.

He added that similar sand dune parks could be set up at Mandrem, Galgibaga and Agonda beaches where turtle nesting sites are already present.

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