People come to Goa to lose themselves in its serene greenery, which has increasingly come under threat in recent times. The vanishing hills of Ribandar and Reis Magos are a case in point.
Having any expectations of the government curtailing this rape of our land is laughable. We might as well begin speaking of Goa in the past tense.
It's time now for civil society members and greens to hold the authorities concerned accountable. Having said that, such wanton destruction can't happen without the politicians and those in the higher echelons being unaware of circumstances.
Those who have turned a blind eye to this deterioration of the Goan countryside will not escape the wrath of the gods they pretend to seek blessings from at election time. However, before that, nature's wrath is awaiting all of us.
While the G20 is deliberating on green transitions to set the pace for some bold actions to right the wrongs, Goa's green script is being rewritten with blood. Thieves are at work after dark to divest its hillsides of green cover for a few pennies.
If we justify our development for the sake of tourism, then we have hit the road to perdition. Those in the tourism industry, who woo tourists with slogans like “Green Goa” and “Golden Goa”, will be left with bald, lifeless hills and messy beaches to earn their livelihoods.
One must realise that the hills which are being shaved have always been the hotspots of Goan biodiversity. We are losing a legacy of wild medicinal plants and fruits at an exponential rate.
While the G20 is making a pitch to stave off the effects of global climate change, Goa's shaven hills are becoming a source of trapping heat and making the planet warmer. So how are we helping the cause of reversing climate change?
Goan hills are aquifers where water is stored, thus replenishing our groundwater, which is sourced by wells, lakes and ponds. The difficult part here is that we will not see the impact of our actions immediately. The devastation will come slowly but surely.
The heatwave Goa witnessed somewhere in March this year, the uneven rain spells in 2022 and the hot winters we are experiencing are tell-tale signs of harsher times to come.
As per The Guardian, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) landmark report showed that extreme heatwaves that would usually happen every 50 years are already happening every decade.
If warming is kept to 1.5C, these will happen approximately every five years, it states.
Goa, too, has been witnessing flooding as a result of extremely heavy rainfall, recorded to be among the highest in the country. It's time we realise that our greenery is our lifeline, and it will help us fight climate change in a small way.
Buildings on hilltops in Goa have become a trend. And why is that? Everybody loves to have a view of the sea. The builders' lobby, which is in league, allegedly, with the politicians, is having its way.
This article is not about laying the blame solely on politicians, but they are certainly part of a sinister land mafia that is working overtime making hay while the sun is shining.
There is no denying that development is needed, but not at the cost of our environment. Let us open our eyes now and save ourselves from a bleak future.