On 19th December Goa Liberation day is celebrated as on this day in 1961 Indian government threw out the Portuguese colonisers from goa. On this occasion hundreds people protested in Goa against so called "Development Projects" of government and got arrested.
What Mollem Protest is all about?
On the name of "Economic Development" government is trying to wipe out forests in an ecologically sensitive area "Bhagvan Mahavir Century" and "Mollem National Park". Spread in 240sq km it is the largest protected area of Goa, it is one of the world's "hottest hot spot" of biodiversity which means a high variety of plants and animal life is found in this area.
There are many tourists attractions also in the area like Tambdi Surla Temple, Dudhsagar falls, Devil's Canyon etc.
The "Development Projects"
So, What development projects government is planning.
There is a highway to be increased to four lane, a Railway line and a Power transmission line cutting the reserved forest area in three parts. Around 20,000 trees to be cut for railway line, 40,000 for highway and 5,000 for power transmission line. In total around 60-70 thousands trees needed to be cut for these projects.
Then what's the issue, projects will benefit locals eventually.
There are three major problems.
Rushing the Process
Locals are criticising the government for inadequate assessment of the situation and rushing the projects, none of their issues were acknowledged by the local authorities. Infact 2 out of 3 projects were approved during lockdown, in march, National Board of Wildlife approved these projects on video conferencing while giving the excuse that state panel has already approved it, while some members of state panel declined such approval from their side.
The Coal Hub
Some actvists believe that it's the beginning of making Goa a Coal transportation hub, highways and railways all are just to facilitate big corporates, while raising the issue of "Coal Dust" and it's impact on nature. If these railway lines were used to transport coal, the coal dust coming out will affect the diverse wildlife of Goa.
This coal dust not only effects the environment but agriculture, fishing industry, tourism and local residents will also suffer. Imagine beaches of goa with black coal dust on your face it will be disastrous.
And these might be the reasons why previous Chief Minister of Goa Shri Manohar Parrikar rejected this project back in 2013.
As railway line will cut the forest into fragments it will hamper the movement of the local species, and which eventually may led to their extinction due to inbreeding depression or any other natural calamity. This will destroy the biodiversity of goa. On an average large forests survive more efficiently than the small fragmented one.
Over 150 scientists have written to government describing the cons of these projects. Many people and even children are protesting. Many wrote mails, people are running campaigns on twitter with #SaveMollem, #AmcheMollem etc.
While government says all the protests are funded by opposition and protesters are mislead.
Fortunately HC had put restriction on Power line project on 8th December 2020. While other projects are still live.