Nandkumar M Kamat
Google Earth, a simple, free, easy to use tool based on satellite images dating back to 2000 shows how little is left of coastal zone of Goa for any future planning.
GCZMA has carefully avoided use of this tool because then they can pass on the blame to local authorities. The marine shell beds, pseudo fossils found at Chicalim, Bambolim, Siridao, Tuem, Mapusa, Agapur etc indicate how fall in sea level created the young coastline of Goa about 8-10 thousand years ago.
Archaeologists based on buried wood dated Colva beach less than 20000 years old. Campal to Caranzalem sandy beaches are still much younger. Under local scenario of global sea level rise coastal zone of Goa would be submerged due to unfavourable altitude and contours.
Majority of constructions within 500 m of High Tide Line (HTL) are at an altitude of less than 10 m from sea level. Already the beaches in Goa are suffering from heavy erosion but the construction activity has not stopped. From Keri, Pernem in north Goa to Polem, Canacona in south Goa the coast has no capacitance to defend any construction from sea level rise.
So how the members of GCZMA permitted more than ten thousand constructions within 500 metres from HTL which you can easily see using Google Earth? Sea facing cliffs are not meant for construction but you see a huge private house on Vagator cliff within 200 m of HTL. It didn’t exist before 2003 so how it was permitted? To any eco warriors still hoping to salvage what remains of coastal zone of Goa there is no hope due to existing dense constructions.
I critically examined the development between 2000 to 2019 in coastal north Goa from Keri Pernem to Sinquerim-Aguada. We know the politicians ruling this area from 2003. Couldn’t they see how rapidly the CRZ was getting completely violated? Why before 2003 we don’t see much of land use change in this coastal belt of Pernem and Bardez? Let us begin from Keri- northernmost beach of Goa. During 1977 I had trekked this full stretch from Keri to Morjim as member of a coastal trekking team. We encountered four fishing villages- Keri, Arambol, Mandrem and Morjim and were pleased to see lot of fishing activity and huge beach nets ‘rampons’.
Keri, barely above sea level has a two km long sandy beach and is most vulnerable to submergence. Till October 2006 in Keri you see less than 10 constructions within 500 m from HTL. Now you have more than 100. How these were permitted? After we cross Keri we encounter the half kilometer long beach in front of the ‘Vaghtollem” freshwater lake at Arambol/Harmal.
Amazingly GCZMA seems to have forgotten about this unique lake and beach. Goa Police have turned a blind eye to the illegal colony of junkies and nudists and their parties and orgies in forest above this lake. Satellite images show more than 100 constructions within just 100 m of HTL in this area which were absent in 2003. A little towards south is the rocky tidal area of Arambol. From just 10 houses within 70 m of HTL in this area in 2003 you see more than 200.
At the base of Arambol cliff there were barely 10 constructions in 2003. Now we see more than 25 in total violation of CRZ norms. The Arambol beach begins from this cliff and ends at the confluence of Arambol river near Junasvado. The violation of CRZ norms in this area is unbelievable. In satellite pictures of May 2003 on this 3. 5 km long beach, within 500 m of HTL we see less than 100 constructions. So who permitted the densely packed 1000 new constructions in this eco-sensitive belt?
The small Arambol peninsula created by the Arambol river mouth sports eco-sensitive sand dunes. How GCZMA failed to see that four private houses have been built on this eco-sensitive, fragile peninsula? You don’t see any constructions there in May 2003 images. How this sand bar owned by government was permitted to be encroached as if it is private property? Shockingly neither the revenue, town and country planning or water resources department have any knowledge of existence, catchment area, hydrography of two small rivers ‘river of Arambol’ or ‘Harmalchi nhay” and “ river of Mandrem’ or ‘Mandrechi nhay” discharging on Arambol-Mandrem beach and meeting the Arabian sea?.
The unprecedented fragmentation of Arambol and Mandrem sand dunes is a great ecological tragedy. Without political patronage 1000 new constructions would not have come up in this belt in past 15 years. The same picture is seen upto Morjim- total violation of all CRZ norms. As you cross Chapora river and look at Vagator – Anjuna beach you see totally saturated constructions. Hardly any space is left within CRZ- II. The two km long beach shows less than 100 constructions in 2003 and more than 1500 within 500 m from HTL during 2019. How these 1400 new constructions were permitted? Government knows that a powerful parallel economy is ruling the full north Goa coastal belt and the dons of this economy don’t care for any coastal zone management plan.
They elect or ensure the defeat of politicians who don’t fall in line. As you continue to compare and contrast the transformation of coastal Bardez from Baga to Sinquerim a 7. 5 km sandy coastal belt- the picture of one of Asia’s densest settlement and commercialized patch strikes you. The sarpanchas, the talathis, the MLAs, the north Goa MP, the collector, north Goa, the mamlatdar, Bardez all have access to Google Earth. But they show helplessness in using this simple tool which would have shown them every three months where violations of CRZ regulations are occurring.
The Baga river is being systematically strangulated. It is going to meet the same fate as that of Sal river in South Goa. After looking at 2003 landscape within 500 m of HTL from Keri to Sinquerim and the present saturation of the coastline – we can conclude that the full credit for such massive, ugly coastal transformation needs to be given to our local politicians and the parallel economy which they are patronizing and fuelling. What another coastal zone management plan would achieve when you see how pure greed has possessed the stakeholders in the coastal zone of north and south Goa? Goa’s politicians have created a hopeless situation in coastal zone (concluded).