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Hill cutting at Verna draws ire from activists

VASCO: Verna villagers have raised a strong concern over the rampant hill cutting and extensive ecological damage caused to the hills of Verna.

In a press statement issued on Saturday, the villagers stated that the issue pertaining to the rampant hill cutting and extensive ecological damage was discussed and was strongly opposed at the gram sabha meeting held on November 11.

A villager said, “The plateau has numerous springs which eventually feed south Goa’s lifeline the river Sal”. He further opined that the Verna plateau has a traditional source of livelihood and basic needs for many of the indigenous people of Verna, who have for centuries together protected and preserved its natural resources.

“At the gram sabha meeting, the members resolved to stop the hill cutting. To support their claims, a reference was made to the report of Dr Madhav Gadgil and his comments after the Kerala disaster in June 2018 that Goa could be next on the disaster list”, said the press statement.

It was further said that on November 12, 2018, in keeping with the resolution and sentiments of the gram sabha, sarpanch Tony D’ Costa issued the stop work order and subsequently arranged for a site inspection with TCP officials on December 21, 2018. This was attended by the sarpanch, secretary, the ward panch member and representatives of the gram sabha.

“At the inspection, permissions along with the stipulated terms and conditions issued by the TCP department, contour maps, plan showing retaining walls and the regional plan map 2021, were examined in detail. The inspection revealed that the permission granted was for cutting of land and not hill cutting and hence the said permission stands invalid”, added the press release.

“The permission granted calls for ensuring proper drainage in conformity with the existing natural drainage network, as also retaining wall construction, both of which have been blatantly ignored. One of the clauses state that no noise or dust pollution should be created. The residents of Sodovim and Bamborda were put to a lot of inconvenience. Another fact that was brought to light, that a complaint was registered for hill cutting under the same survey number. During the last few monsoons, mud and sludge has been blocking the natural drainage and the built up drains.

As claimed by the owner of the property, the removal of mud is being carried out for prestigious public utility projects of national interest.

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