The famous Vareg island near Chicalim witnessed its first lowest tide of 2022 on Sunday, January 2. However, unlike in the past, the traditional local community abandoned the area in discontentment.
This island is rich in breeding ground for clams, windowpane oysters and other sea species.
While the picturesque island provided famous Tisreo (clam) and kalvam (oyster) harvest last year in the mud flats of Chicalim and Sancoale, this year clams (tisreos) have not returned on the sea belt which has disappointed the local tribal group that relies on this natural resource for its livelihood.
“Over hundreds of Dabolim-Chicalim villagers besides others from South Goa have been extracting clams from the Vareg Island sand-bar during low tide. Last year during there were a huge growth of oysters with hundreds of people from different villages collecting the same from Chicalim and Sancoale Bay. But this New Year came like a shocker for all as the clams didn't show up this time ,” said Cyril Fernandes, environmental activist and chairman of Heritage Committee of Chicalim Biodiversity Management Committee.
He further added that various factors and pollution by iron ore barges has destroyed this natural habitat of the now extinct scheduled species placuna placenta, commonly known in Goa as windowpane oysters or the Mother of Pearl Oysters.
The Chicalim Panchayat declared the area around Vareg Island up to St. Jacinto Island as a Biodiversity Heritage Site.
The Chicalim villagers await approval of Goa State Biodiversity board and expressed displeasure that it has been pending for the last one year.
Meanwhile, environmental activists from Chicalim and Sancoale have urged the State administration and importantly the Goa State Biodiversity Board (GSBB) to look into the matter on priority.