Panaji: Stating that the state government will adopt long-term measures to prevent flooding in the future, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday assured the assembly that the public works department (PWD) and water resources department (WRD) will be entrusted with the responsibility to clear waterlogging across Goa as an interim measure.
He said that in order to provide immediate relief to the people, a budget provision of Rs 4 crore has been made under the revenue department.
“Yes. We had a flood-like situation in some parts of the state but the water receded in a couple of hours. The concerned agencies including North and South Goa Collectorate were on the job but I admit that they didn’t execute the relief work in a speedy manner,” said Sawant while responding to the calling attention motion moved by Marcaim MLA Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar.
He said that during the last three days, five calls were received from North Goa informing about uprooting of trees. As regards the South Goa District, the Chief Minister said that there were three calls regarding trees falling. Two calls were received from Mormugao taluka regarding landslides and electricity cables falling on the ground and the calls were attended by the concerned agencies, said Sawant.
“We will give the necessary directions to WRD and PWD to pump out accumulated water from the highways and other roads,” he said.
Endorsing the views of the opposition MLAs that incomplete work of western bypass highway in South Goa was a major cause for flooding in many parts of the district, the Chief Minister assured the members of the House that if needed, government will utilise state funds to complete the said work.
Sawant also admitted that faulty design and plans prepared by the consultants for beautification of pavements and expansion of state roads could be one of the factors for flooding in various parts of the state.
Tearing apart the reply of the Chief Minister, the opposition MLAs slammed the government and claimed that the concerned agencies including the state disaster management cell have failed to take preventive measures. They said that as a result, heavy rain in the last three days has led to a flood-like situation all over Goa, especially in villages located near the rivers Mandovi, Zuari, Valvanti and Bicholim.
Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai questioned if preventive steps were taken, why waterlogging occurred in the state including in the capital city of Panaji within only one hour of heavy rainfall. He said that the government has undertaken development without having a vision and added that everything is on paper but nothing on the ground. “They (BJP) were busy breaking away MLAs from other parties in Delhi at the time when they should have been taking preventive measures. Panaji also got submerged, as the concerned person was also missing in those days,” Sardesai said.
Stating that he was being criticised by the people of his constituency, Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate said that Mala and Miramar areas were the most affected in the city. “Flooding in Panaji is nothing new; it has been happening since the past many years. I have promised the people of my consistency that by next monsoon the situation will improve. The Chief Minister should act now, as today I am in your party. So I urge him to ensure that required preventive measures are taken so as to avoid flooding in the city,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat said that provision of Rs 4 crore for disaster management was not sufficient. He said that he has urged the government to enhance the spending power of Collectors and Deputy Collectors.