Stressing on the need to protect Goan rivers from pollution, the former chief minister and Congress MLA from Navelim, Luizinho Faleiro, on Tuesday, urged the government to establish Goa Protection of River Authority (GPRA), an autonomous body, to protect and enhance the river aquatic biodiversity.
“We treat our rivers as our mother and Goddess, if we can’t protect her then we are not fit to sit here in Assembly,” said Faleiro while speaking on the floor of the House during a cut motion moved by opposition MLAs on the Governor Mridula Sinha’s speech in the State Legislative Assembly.
He said that the GPRA should be empowered through a legislation to act against the illegalities and to take preventive measures in keeping the rivers clean.
Citing one example, he said that river Sal which was once the attraction for tourists is stinking, and added that the river is so polluted that the concerned agencies were finding it difficult to recover a 12-year-old child, who is reported to be drowned accidentally in one of its tributaries.
“There is a need to clear encroachments and the departments like Town and Country Planning and Village Panchayats ought to stop giving construction licences for houses on the river banks. People should stop the discharge of sullage and sewage from their premises into the rivers,” the senior Congress leader said.
Margao MLA Digambar Kamat urged the government to come out with a policy thereby making it mandatory for every household to get the premises connected to the nearby sewerage line.
“Government has spent crores of rupees for laying the sewerage pipelines which are not connected to the houses. Let the government give connection by using money from its own treasury and recover the expenditure from the monthly water bills. If we don›t compel the people by legislation no one will come forward voluntarily,” he said.
Raising a grave concern over the rising crimes in Goa, Kamat said that it is bringing a bad name to tourism in the state.
“Crime in Goa is on rise …we have recently witnessed murders and gang wars. If law and order situation fails then the tourists will shy away from Goa,” he said adding there are comparatively fewer cases of drugs registered in South Goa than the North Goa district.
Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco said that Goa is on the verge of losing the status of ‘safe tourist destination’ and it will have a negative impact on the economy of the state.
“How can the government deny that drugs have not reached the colleges when police have arrested students from Goa College of Engineering’ boys hostel,” he questioned.
Ponda MLA Ravi Naik cornered the government over the unemployment issue, and sought details from the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant about the number of industries set up in the state through Investment Promotion Board and the number of jobs created through those particular industries.