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People raise concerns over move to dredge Sal

Margao: The 14-km stretch of the Sal river will be dredged in seven phases, even as the state government awaits funds from the Centre to begin the work, which has triggered concerns among the people living along the riverbanks. 

Highly-placed sources in the captain of ports department said that it will dredge the Sal from the mouth of the river in seven phases – each phase will cover the distance of two kilometre.  

However, the people living along the riverbanks have raised apprehensions over the impact of the proposed dredging on the riverbanks.

The dredging has to be carried out from the mouth of the river while moving upstream, the sources explained, adding that the government recently held a joint meeting with sarpanchas of the 14 panchayats falling on either side of the river to arrive at a consensus on the dredging project.

The dredging will be carried out as part of the inland waterways project of the Centre. The cost of dredging will be approximately Rs 80 crore, which will be borne by the Centre.

Sources said the state government has asked the National Institute of Oceanography to carry out a scientific study of the river. Simultaneously, the captain of ports department will prepare a detailed project report that will be sent to the Union government for the release of funds.

By and large there has been no opposition to the proposed dredging, except for certain village panchayats, which raised some queries and apprehensions. The misgivings have been allayed at the joint meeting, the sources said.

However, the people living along the riverbanks are not convinced of the project and have raised concerns over the impact of the dredging on the riverbanks.

Claiming that the riverbanks were worked upon during the Portuguese regime, the villagers said that there is no clarity on the proposed dredging.

If the government carries out ‘capital dredging’ then it could have adverse impact on the riverbanks, they said, adding that the matter will be taken up with the government for seeking clarification.

Recently Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had raised concerns over the dangerous ‘escherichia coli’ levels in the Sal, pushing for rejuvenation of the river through dredging. 

He had said the state sought funds from the Centre for the dredging. 

But if there is a delay in sanctioning the funds then the state will fund the project till money comes from the Centre, Sawant had explained.

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