BY ASAVARI KULKARNI
Summers have been unusually hot this year, more than ever before. The water situation in Goa has been chaotic, to say the least. And this, since February. People from the coastal region have been the worst affected.
A village called Palyem in Pernem taluka receives water once in five days while the Pernem municipality area receives water on alternate days. This is an unprecedented situation, never experienced by these people for the last 20 years or so, as narrated by some locals.
People allege that this scarcity is due to the diversion of water to the newly constructed Mopa airport. The situation is the same all over Goa.
In Surla, Bicholim, near the mining belt, springs and wells have the lowest recorded groundwater level. This is a phenomenon not observed for the past 20 years, even when mining activities were at their peak. As per the reports from the Water Resource Department (WRD), water in all the reservoirs in Goa has dropped down to considerably low levels and the supply will be enough only till mid-June.
To add to this situation, the looming El Nino effect over the monsoon is a burning issue all over the world. Although the IMD (India Meteorological Department) has predicted normal rainfall for India, recent updates of a 75 per cent likelihood of the El Nino impact in June, July and August, are a cause of concern.
EL NINO, LA NINA
El Nino, which is the warmer-than-normal phase of the ENSO phenomenon, usually causes more intense heat waves just as it did in India in 2015 and 2016. We have seen spells of unseasonal, heavy rains over the last four years, which is supposed to be the effect of La Nina.
It has been observed that El Nino adds to the above-normal temperature and reduction in rains in India. Though the severity has been predicted for northern Indian states and not western states, we still need to be ready for the upcoming circumstances.
Unfortunately, our lawmakers are busy addressing unnecessary issues and have turned a deaf ear to such important climate change predictions. The pace at which we are destroying our plateaus, forests and other fragile ecosystems is paving the way to the upcoming disaster.
Interestingly, an action plan to face climate change effects is already on paper, under the title Goa State Action Plan for climate change. However, how practical the application of the same will be, is questionable.
Unfortunately, we are never ready for disasters. Our actions are always a response to the disaster and not proactive ones. We are so blind and ignorant that we can’t see a death trap being laid in the name of development.
If one travels from Banastarim to Panjim or Merces to Bambolim, we can see hundreds of mangrove trees dried up. The reason? Unknown. It is either man-made or a response to climate change. In both cases, humans are responsible for the sorry state of a vital ecosystem.
Water scarcity, which is already haunting our state, will get worse if we do not get normal rainfall this year. Our state has 6,000 wells in use. Though we are in a groundwater-safe state, mismanagement of these resources, increasing mega projects and conversion of agricultural lands are disturbing major groundwater reservoirs. In future, this problem will intensify for sure.
Unaware, ignorant and indifferent about the upcoming disaster, we are busy worrying about our petrol prices and the political circus being played out in our state. But a time will come when having our daily fish and rice will be impossible.
Politicians are not bothered about the devastation approaching us. But, we, as responsible citizens, should ready ourselves to face the impending catastrophe.