As the Goa State Wetland Authority (GSWA) proposed to notify five lakes as wetlands in the coastal village of Benaulim, gram sabha members on Wednesday deliberated on the proposal, with suggestions made to protect the interests of the locals whose houses are located in the vicinity and ensure traditional fishing activity in the water bodies.
While the draft proposal to notify the five lakes has found favour with the special gram sabha, members, however, sounded a caution that houses located in the buffer zone or proposed for construction in the no development buffer zone should be exempted from the provision.
While the wetlands norms prohibit fishing with nets in the lakes declared as wetlands, members pointed out that the panchayat should make a plea to exempt fishing with nets in the water bodies.
The special gram sabha called by sarpanch Xavier Pereira and attended by chairman of the village bio-diversity management committee Charles D’Silva, panchas and members called for awareness programme amongst the locals.
Charles informed that the sarpanch has called for the special gram sabha after the panchayat has received the proposal to declare the five lakes as wetlands.
“After receiving the draft notification, we had an inspection of the five lakes before urging the sarpanch to call for the special gram sabha. The people can submit their suggestions and objections to the draft by May 23. The panchayat members in whose jurisdiction the five lakes are located have been given the survey numbers of the owners to call on them and explain the draft wetland proposal,” he said.
Saying that the draft norms allow only line fishing and bar fishing with boats and fishing nets in the wetlands, Charles said the panchayat would write to the wetland authority to permit traditional fishing activities.
“We will meet again on May 25 after which a final decision will be taken before submit the panchayat decision to the wetland authority before May 28,” he added.
Saying the people have not objected to the proposal to declare the five lakes as wetlands, Charles, however, said the people have the right to take their call on the matter. “It should not happen that the proposal is seen as being dumped on the people. People of Benaulm had a bad experience with the western bypass without taking the people into confidence,” he said.
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