The New Year 2023 has certainly brought with it some glad tidings for friends of the reticent olive ridley turtle. The Goa government’s focus on attracting as many tourists as possible may have been a contributing factor in the no-show of the sea turtles at the time they were expected at Ashwem beach.
Ashwem beach finally welcomed olive ridley turtles on New Year’s Day, that is, on Sunday at 7 pm. The visit of these turtles has been delayed by almost two months as per earlier records.
Every year sea turtles visit this beach in the month of November. The forest department officials have sealed the area surrounding this egg-laying site in view of its safety.
Security personnel at Ashwem beach informed forest department officials about the sea turtles’ appearance at the site and also about the laying of eggs. After which the forest department officials secured the area by installing safety nets around the nesting site.
The sea turtle conservation project is ongoing at Tembwada, Morjim, since 1997.
This has helped locals and the forest department help release baby turtles into the sea. Five hundred sq metres of land was reserved for this purpose during the tenure of late CM Manohar Parrikar with a temporary research centre established in a small hut.
Morjim and Mandrem were declared sensitive areas by the forest department. But in the last month of 2022, this beach has been declared a commercial zone as per the government’s notification published in the official gazette.
The natural beach and flora are pristine as there is no commercial construction in this area. Environmentalist Denzil Sequeira has tried to maintain the untouched area as it is.
Forest Minister Vishwajeet Rane recently said that the reserved area will be kept safe and no commercial activities will be allowed in this area.
However, it has been observed that CRZ rules are violated quite often and concrete structures are mushrooming everywhere. Environmentalists from this area are demanding that the minister should visit this area in person to see the damage himself.