Friday 28 September 2018

MPT recipe for quick end to Zuari river fishery - Part 1

By any standard MPT has prepared so far best recipe to quick end Zuari River fisheries. After the repeated appeals of Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari to Zuari river fishermen to get trawlers and move into high seas got rejected, through Murmagoa Port Trust (MPT), it now plans to speedily destroy fish habitats in the River. According to the EIA report on Goa State Pollution Control Board website details of how Zuari river will be destroyed are spelt out clearly. The Public Hearing for expansion of Port is slotted for October 05, 2018 at Airport Road, Chicalim grounds in Goa from 10.30 am on wards.

Even though report claims in para 7.2 that port expansion will ultimately lead to the quality of of life of local people, quality of fisheries is destined to be poisoned. The scare of formalin laced fish imports into Goa has dominated public discourse over the past few months in favour of buying of local fish available in Goa. However examination of MPT plans of expansion would leave fish quality in Zuari poisoned. This EIA report has established connections between Zuari and Mandovi via Cumbharzua canal so the poison is destined to spread to these water bodies too besides Arabian Sea. The implications of this scenario is that not only fisher's livelihoods are at stake but also the health of those who will consume fish from these water bodies. It is therefore necessary that people should take up responsibility of defending Zuari river from the planned ambush by India's Ministry of Shipping rather than to leave Zuari river fishers to fend for themselves in an ongoing battle for this river waged from 2014. This battle is even bigger onw involving proposed modernisation and expansion at MPT under Sagarmala project of the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India as per para 2.3 of EIA.

Interestingly EIA on page 122 already acknowledges that these already loss of fishery resources and their habitats due to pollution, coastal development and intense illegal fishing; and their replenishment necessitates some strategic approaches. Irony of our times is that MPT after knowing that there is already loss of fisheries is working towards destroying them even further with irreversible changes. 

Pollution will spread through oil spills is admitted in para 4.5.2 and consequence is visualized too. It is noted "Only major impact on marine ecology is expected from accidental oil spills at liquid cargo berth. Oil destroys water repellency of bird's feathers, thus exposing these creatures to hard elements without the ability to repel water and insulate from the cold water, birds may die from hypothermia. Many birds also ingest oil when they try to clean themselves which can poison them. Fish, Shellfish and marine mammals may not be exposed immediately, but can come into contact with oil if it is mixed into water column. When exposed to oil adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiratory rates, fin erosion and reproductive impairment. Oil also adversely affects eggs and larval survival." This is unacceptable risk of further polluting of Zuari river.  

After pollution this EIA report as quoted above points to coastal development as a cause of loss of fishery resources in Zuari on page 122. And MPT embarks on more coastal development! Totally insensitive and in fact arrogant decision to reclaim Zuari river by dredging and dumping specially recognizing that such coastal development causes loss of fishery resources. Terms of Reference to this EIA is for reclamation of 65,000 square meters. Page 44 under para 2.4.1 exceeds this limit and puts this figure to 85,195 square meters. However detail calculations of the break up on the same page exceeds even this and totals up to 85,715 square meters - 520 square meters in addition! So actual difference from the permitted total is 20,715 square meters. Is this not river grab scam? For purpose of construction on reclaimed land over the period of 24 months 60,000 cubic meters of sand will be needed and that will be procured from the nearby vendors as per page 47 para 2.4.3 of the EIA. Sand mining has a prowess to disrupt ecology and for this which rivers MPT plans to disrupt? Mandovi? Chapora? Tiracol? "nearby" vendors identity is not revealed in EIA. So in order to accomplish one ecological port expansion catastrophe more ecological catastrophes needs to be unleashed! This coastal development of port expansion is destined to further aggravate situation of marine ecology pollution. Sagarmala project has sanctioned Rs. 124.00 crore for fishing jetty as per Table 2.9 on page 48. Where do fisheries department allotted Rs.10 crore for fishing Jetty in Vasco will be utilized? Page 28 para 2.3.1 informs that the Goa Boat Boat owner's Association has been demanding a fully fledged jetty for landing of their catch. However there is no attached letter from the mentioned in EIA report to substantiate the MPT claim.

Next to Pollution and Coastal Development is illegal fishing in Zuari causing loss of fishery resources. To a great extend this is true and some clues are available. Goa Fisheries department has identified certain organizations for carrying on illegal fishing by trawlers in Zuari river. Here is one link. Illegal fishing is also being carried on by mini purse seine boats and Goa Fisheries department documents are available. Click here. MPT since 2000 has claimed that its jurisdiction over Zuari extends upto Cortalim bridge. Ministry of Shipping, Government of India has even published this in the Official gazetteer of India in May 2000. What MPT has done to stop illegal fishing in Zuari estuary when their EIA records that it is one of the causes for loss of Fisheries in Zuari river? EIA does not record any legal fishing activities in Zuari river. There are no such activities as per MPT? Or is it Nitin Gadkari's direction that fishermen's existence should not be recorded at all? Marina plans for Zuari are active in Investment Promotion Board (IPB) and they also do not find mention in EIA. Its a farce.

Sebastiao Rodrigues

mobile: 09923336347

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