Local Goa News

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Is Siolim jetty a gift to the casino lobby?

Locals allege WRD Minister Dayanand Mandrekar took permission for beautification of riverfront and repair of bundh but started work on jetty instead

PANJIM: Is the ‘illegal’ Siolim jetty being built in River Chapora a gift to the offshore casino lobby? Local believe it to be so.
Despite orders by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and a report by Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), work on the jetty, which is being built based on permission for repairs of a bundh, is underway on a war footing.
Locals suspect the government wants to help the casino lobby move out of Panjim, due to opposition and anchor their vessels in River Chapora.
Gurudas Vernekar, a resident who is spearheading the opposition to the project, says the project is illegal. “How can you propose a bundh and construct a jetty instead? This is nothing but a backdoor entry to the offshore casinos in Siolim,” he said.
Vernekar also said that when asked for the reason for the jetty, the local MLA and WRD officials said it is for fishermen. He added, “There is no fishing community here, but there are in Bhattim.”
He also said, “If the WRD report said the bundh was in a dangerous state, then why was the jetty work being carried out first? This smacks of a major corruption scam.”
Siolim panch Vinod Palyekar has demanded an inquiry into the issue. He said, “The issue needs to be probed as there is already a fishing dock in Siolim, which can be used by the fisherfolk, as claimed by the local MLA and WRD minister.”
He further said NGT has clearly asked GCZMA to take necessary action but nothing is being done. “The work is on in full pace,” he said.
WRD has taken up construction of the Rs 16 crore jetty at Siolim without conducting an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) or a study from NIO. Activists also allege the construction is carried out without a panchayat NOC.
Documents obtained under RTI reveal that WRD Minister Dayanand Mandrekar had proposed repairs of the bundh connecting the Siolim fish market but instead of a bundh, the work of the jetty has been taken up.
Strangely, following a letter from Mandrekar for beautification of the riverfront and repair of bundh on March 10, 2015, within three days an inspection was carried out and a report was submitted by Executive Engineer P B Badami.
“The site was inspected by the undersigned along with the assistant engineer and it was noticed that the existing wall for a stretch of 250 mts along River Chapora near the Siolim market is in very bad shape and may collapse in the near future, posing danger to the families living in the houses along this stretch during the monsoon,” the report states.
Further, it says that in the wake of the above, an estimate has been prepared for construction of a bundh with an RCC retaining wall with Moorum backfilling to protect the border along the stretch for the length of 250 mts.
Within 24 days of this report, on April 7, 2016, an administrative approval was granted for the project of Rs 9.8 crore for the purpose of ‘Development of River Chapora at Siolim’.
Surprisingly, the GCZMA inspection report says a Rapid EIA to be done by the project proponent, if any, may be decided by the authority even after GCZMA member Dr Antonio Mascarenhas had pointed out that a detailed EIA is needed by a reputed organisation as the Chapora estuary is virtually uncharted.
Documents also reveal that at the GCZMA meeting, WRD had agreed to carry out the design for tidal variation with the help of NIO, but this has not been done as yet.

Herald Goa News

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