A green manifesto is as important as any political manifesto. Election candidates, are you listening?

Goa’s USP is not just its culture, but its ecology, and its land, too. And, it needs to be preserved.
Goa's ecology is in dire need of conservation

Goa's ecology is in dire need of conservation

Gomantak Times

The state election, which will lead to the next government in Goa, is just around the corner. With this, the season of manifestos has also begun, with many political parties announcing a variety of freebies! However, amidst all this noise, not much importance is being given to Goa’s pressing issue — and that’s Goa’s ecosystem, even though we have witnessed the community- based ‘Save Mollem’ campaign which opposed three linear projects that will directly harm the Mollem forests.

Our forests, rivers, plateaus and coastline are subject to various destructive activities and thus, there’s a need to look at the health of our ecology, especially by the policymakers.

So, taking a cue from here, a ‘Goa’s Green Manifesto’ has been released online to understand the issues, and demand action from the government. It involves citizens associated with the ‘Amche Mollem’ campaign, youth groups and experts in various fields.


Farai Patel, an ecologist who has been involved in the drafting of the manifesto, says, “This manifesto is a blueprint for a more sustainable future for Goa that we hope political parties across the spectrum adopt. It is a reflection of a growing environmental consciousness, particularly among young people in the state. It does not tackle all the environmental and social issues that Goa is experiencing, but it aims at starting conversations about climate change, sustainability, equity and eco-consciousness, and in doing so, motivate people and politicians to prioritise these issues.”

He states that it is not just about Mollem, but that issue is just an indication. “If this system is not fixed, there are likely to be many more such projects across the state, a case in point is the new airport at Mopa, which has destroyed the biodiversity of an entire plateau, despite local opposition. We suggest a two-pronged approach to deal with this, which strengthens local management of ecosystems, while also creating a non-political oversight body, consisting of experts and civil society organisations,” he says.

But, why is there a need for such a manifesto, and why now? According to this manifesto, it has been created mainly due to climate change, and we don’t have much time in hand if we don’t act now.

It says, “The latest IPCC report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries has stated clearly that the internationally agreed threshold of 1.5°C of global heating is “perilously close.” The report shows that greenhouse gases, released by human activity have caused the world to warm up by 1.1°C. The inhabitants of Goa are already suffering the consequences of this change with an increase in cyclones, untimely rainfall and a sea-level rise. These weather events are taking a major toll on our homes, livelihoods and our mental and physical health.”

This manifesto gives details about Goa’s forests, the coast, fresh water ecosystems, open natural ecosystems, air, agrarian ecosystems, human settlements, society and also governance. It highlights the concerns related to these topics, and demands action accordingly.

When it comes to forests, the main demand is to scrap the three infrastructure projects in Mollem.

The other issues are related to afforestation. It brings to light that Goa has a huge backlog of compensatory afforestation of some 1,600 ha and is outsourcing afforestation to other states.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Save our environment before it is too late</p></div>

Save our environment before it is too late

PIC CREDIT: goagreenmanifesto.in

Another important ecosystem of Goa is its coastline and its protection should be a priority as the rising sea level, due to global heating, could have disastrous effects on Goa, in the near future.

It suggests the development of a storm warning system, and a comprehensive all-Goa mapping of the sea level rise and its impacts on Goa’s coast. “Create a more robust plan for the mapping and safeguarding of sand dunes in Goa.”

Also, there’s a need to “update the CZMP to include missing and inadequately mapped ecosystems — for eg, sand dunes, fishing ponds, sea grass beds, bird foraging areas, seaweed forests and coral reefs. Map traditional fishing grounds and fishing practices and incorporate traditional fishermen’s knowledge to build climate resilience. Create incentives for coastal and fishing communities to start native integrated aquaculture systems such as oyster, mussel and seaweed farming.”

Under the freshwater ecosystems section, it demands stopping of the nationalisation of all Goan rivers, and allowing continued access to local communities. It also demands that there is no further damming of any of Goa’s rivers.

It demands the identification, protection and restoration of many freshwater wetlands and habitats of migratory species of birds, such as mudflats, wetlands and sandbars. It also speaks about the conservation of estuarine ecosystems, including khazan lands and mangrove forests, as they are extremely productive and vulnerable areas (particularly to climate change).

The manifesto speaks about ignored ecosystems, which are generally considered wastelands. These are critical ecosystems with rich flora and fauna, and are crucial carbon sinks. It demands, “Exclude Goa’s rocky outcrop habitats, grasslands, pasturelands and marshes from the Wasteland Atlas of India.”

The other emphasis of this manifesto is on the air quality of Goa. The manifesto demands the introduction of a real-time air quality monitoring network and making this data publicly accessible.

Under the agrarian ecosystems section, it demands the documenting and preserving of indigenous agricultural practices and creation of a genetic database/seed bank for indigenous agricultural products, organic farming, crop rotation and irrigation systems that conserve water.

The manifesto has put an emphasis on society and people, in general, as it believes that humans are integral to the ecosystems and there’s a need to look at our urban spaces in terms of ecology, since Goa’s urban spaces are expanding fast, which can threaten the biodiverse ecosystems.

Other demands include a decentralised waste management and recycling facility, creation of an efficient biomedical waste management system; identification of heritage homes, areas and villages and government funds to support them.

Under the Society section, it focuses on the One Health concept, which focuses on the integration of human, animal and environmental health, and acknowledges that each of these parts is dependent on the other.

Lastly, under the Governance section, it highlights that people should be consulted on all issues pertaining to governance. “All applications, permissions, decisions and meeting minutes shall be uploaded on government websites without delay.” [SOURCE: People’s Manifesto for Goa 2022]

These are just a few points of the manifesto. Log on to www.goagreenmanifesto.in for more details.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Goa's ecology is in dire need of conservation</p></div>
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