Margao: Water Resources Department’s ambitious project to improve the water quality of river Sal on the Nuvem-Verna river stretch by constructing a barrage near the wholesale fish market has left farmers in neighbouring Seraulim a worried lot.
Reason: Whenever the mechanically operated gates of the barrage, built on the river Sal course near the wholesale fish market are shut, the corresponding increase in the water level in the river leave the Seraulim fields devastated with sewage water. Reports of fish mortality have come to light with farmers even claiming that cattle abstain from drinking water from the water bodies.
The issue has once again brought to the fore the rampant discharge of raw sewage water carried by the storm water nallah in the Fatorda area of the Margao Municipal Council. In fact, if sources are to be believed, at least 2-3 storm water nallahs carry raw sewage water before they empty into the river Sal along the Donvodem-wholesale fish market stretch of the river. That’s not all. With the Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) in the wholesale fish market yet to fall in place, the waste water from the wholesale fish market too flows into the river Sal, contaminating the water.
The issue plaguing the Seraulim fields is simple. When the water level rises in the river after the closure of the sluice gate, the rising water flows back into the fields and water bodies in neighbouring Seraulim village.
Farmers worry about sewage water
Seraulim farmers say their agriculture operations have being affected for no fault of theirs. In fact, farmers says the water harvesting bodies were left devastated with sewage water some months back when the sluice gate on the river Sal near the wholesale fish market was shut by the Water Resources Department. And, fear seemed to have gripped the farmers again as they prepare the fields for the coming agriculture season, saying a similar fate would befall the farmers once again if the sluice gate on the river Sal is shut.
What has agitated the farmers as well as citizens of Seraulim is the apathy and indifference shown by the Water Resources Department in working out a solution to their woes. In fact, they claimed that while they faced the problem of contamination of their water bodies with sewage, the Water Resources Department is yet to conduct an inspection of the village water bodies.
Facing the threat of water contamination is the five lakh square metres of paddy fields which will be cultivated at Seraulim-Patto by the farmers in the coming season.
Says a farmer Stanley Fernandes: “When the WRD had closed the sluice gate near the wholesale fish market some months back, the water from the river entered our fields, emanating foul odour. Local variety of fish had perished from the water bodies, while the cattle had stayed away from drinking the water”.
He added: "Seraulim village is having the highest water harvesting bodies in the state, which are used for the irrigation of fields. Just imagine a situation if the sewage water enters the fields and water bodies”.
Stanley pointed out that when the WRD had taken up the river Sal water improvement works earlier this year, they did not take into account that the water in the river Sal mixed with sewage would enter Seraulim and devastate the fields and water bodies. “It is not just the question of contamination of water bodies, but the destruction of the ecology as a whole”, he said, while calling for the immediate intervention by the concerned agencies, including the Water Resources Department.
Need for a swift resolution to sewage water issue
Seraulim-based social activist Kevin D’Souza has echoed similar sentiment, saying the agencies should immediately find a solution to the issue before the village fields are destroyed by sewage water. What has agitated Kevin and other farmers is the indifference and apathy shown by the departments in responding to the issue. “When it is an open secret that a couple of storm water nallahs from Fatorda empty into the river Sal along the wholesale fish market stretch, the river water will get contaminated with sewage. But, when the water flow is stopped near the fish market with the help of the sluice gate, the water flows back into our fields”, he said.
Kevin added: “We had brought this issue to the notice of the WRD officials. Farmers have raised the issue at the Seraulim gram sabha. We only hope that the authorities work out a solution and save the fields from destruction”.