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Villagers want to have a voice in drafting of new CZMP

Margao/Carmona: The rejection of the draft coastal zone management plan by the state government has not pacified village panchayats, as special gram sabhas held in coastal Salcete on Sunday demanded that local stakeholders be taken into confidence for preparing a new plan.

The special gram sabha of the Carmona panchayat demanded that a local institution – either the NIO or the Goa University – be roped in to formulate a new CZMP.

Although the state government has binned the draft CZMP, the panchayat has not yet received any official intimation from the panchayats department.

Speaking at the special gram sabha, sarpanch Allwyn Jorge said, “When we received the village CZMPs we had also received a letter from the BDO informing us about the public hearing. We have come to know about the government’s rejection of the draft plan only through media reports… We have not received anything official from the BDO office.”

Rainbow Warriors volunteers made a presentation on the rejected draft CZMP, highlighting inaccuracies in the village maps.

The villagers studied their village map and noticed many errors, including incorrect marking of village borders, showing of khazan lands as mangroves and wrong depiction of high tide lines for the Sal river.

The villagers demanded that local institutions should be tasked with preparing the new CZMP plan.

“Institutions like the National Institute of Oceanography or Goa University should be roped in for preparing new plans, which should be drawn up in consultation with local panchayats and coastal communities like fishermen,” local resident Savio Santos said.

A resolution was passed unanimously at the end of the gram sabha rejecting the public hearing that was to be held on July 7. The resolution also demanded that the new plan must be drafted in consultation with local communities.

The resolution will be forwarded to the member secretary of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority by next week.

Members of the village development committee also brought to the notice of the gram sabha that a private company has blocked people’s access to the Zalor beach by putting up a fence.

Special gram sabhas held by Dramapur and Chinchinim panchayats unanimously rejected the draft CZMP.

The gram sabhas adopted resolutions seeking to write to the government that local stakeholders, including panchayats, comunidades and the people living along the riverbanks, be taken into confidence while drafting the new plan.

The villagers attending the Dramapur gram sabha observed that the village plans had been prepared without taking into confidence the panchayats and other local stakeholders.

At the Chinchinim gram sabha, the villagers demanded that the high tide line be drawn afresh from the centre of a river and not marked randomly as shown in the draft plans.

The gram sabhas also discussed the letter written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the sarpanchas on groundwater conservation, even as the water resources department came in for sharp criticism for not maintaining the bandharas on time.

The Dramapur villagers also demanded that the water resources department should ensure that the bandharas are closed on time so that the water table is recharged.

The department has failed to ensure timely closure of the bandharas, the villagers alleged.

Similar sentiments were also expressed by Chinchinim villagers, who said the department must take more steps to maintain water bodies.

OUR VASCO REPORTER ADDS: The villagers attending the special gram sabha of the Quelossim panchayat rejected the draft CZMP, demanding that the panchayat must be taken into confidence while formulating the new plan.

The people appealed to the government to give more time for studying the matter.

The special gram sabha witnessed chaos as the panchayat failed to get a resource person to explain the row over the rejected draft CZMP.

The meeting was chaired by sarpanch Maria Souza, who showed the gram sabha members a letter received from the CZMA office that informed the village body that it has no resource person to send to the village for explaining the CZMP issue to the villagers.

Hilario Figuereido, Lopino Xavier, Anthony Lucas and others picked holes in the draft CZMP, which has already been rejected by the government.

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