Times of India | 1 month ago | 07-12-2022 | 04:47 am
Panaji: The very first management plans, as required under the Union environment ministry’s norms, for five of Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries and one national park are in their final stages of preparation. Once approved, the plans will be in force for 10 years. Each plan will lay a blueprint for the protected areas’ wildlife habitat management, soil and moisture conservation, protection of sanctuary area, eco-development and eco-tourism, and biodiversity enrichment plantation.“There is already a management plan in place for the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao. The management plan for Bondla is nearly ready and will be submitted for approval soon. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary plan is in the last stages of preparation. The Mhadei and the Netravali wildlife sanctuary management plans are set to be completed soon and the plan for Mollem national park and wildlife sanctuary is in advanced stages of preparation,” said the chief conservator of forests for Goa, Saurabh Kumar.The state forest department had engaged local experts who have prepared the plans with inputs from the deputy conservator of forests from each of the areas concerned. While the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary plan has been prepared by Nandkumar Sawant, the management plans for Cotigao and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries have been prepared by Manoj Borkar. Sawant and Borkar are both senior academicians.Principal investigator at Goa University, Nitin Sawant, is preparing the management plan for Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, while Sujeet Kumar Dongre of the centre for environmental education is drawing the plans for the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park at Mollem.“The management plans will cover all features of each sanctuary area like its topography, humidity, rainfall patterns, soil, flora and fauna while recording endemic and flagship species present there. The sources of water will also be detailed. Based on this, we will be able to plan better where fruit-bearing trees or palatable grasses need to be planted, where to create artificial waterholes, and what soil and moisture conservation measures are needed,” said Kumar.Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries were notified in the late 1990s but did not have management plans until now as required under central government norms.“Having a management plan will also help in seeking funds from the Centre for various projects. The plans will even guide us in aspects such as carrying capacity for eco-tourism and how to involve locals in eco-tourism projects. Extensive and intensive groundwork has been carried out by the experts to prepare the management plans with our deputy conservator of forests,” said Kumar.Though the management plans will be in force for 10 years from the time each is approved, a review every 3-4 years is important, he said, “for rearrangement of descriptions and prescription of different work components, deletion of unnecessary items and addition of different activities on the basis of outcomes”.
PANAJI: Two days after Union home minister Amit Shah said water-sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka in consultation with the Goa government, two BJP ministers of the Pramod Sawant-led government came down heavily on Shah and said it was “condemnable and unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on water diversion.“I condemn the Union home minister’s statement tooth and nail. We are not against in-basin use of Mhadei’s water. But we are against the water being taken outside its basin by Karnataka for use. It may be anybody, if they speak of out-of-basin use of water of the Mhadei, I will condemn it,” state environment minister Nilesh Cabral said on Monday.State water resources minister Subhash Shirodkar also said Shah’s statement was “unacceptable” and no discussion had taken place on diverting the Mhadei water to Karnataka when the Goa delegation had met the home minister.The ministers’ remarks come close on the heels of widespread anti-BJP sentiment on the Mhadei issue with gram sabhas across the state accusing the government of saying one thing and doing another. Cabral, who is also the law minister, said if the Centre did not support Goa, the state has plenty of legal options still available. He said that the House panel formed in Goa will be meeting Shah in Delhi shortly and will ask him when such a consultation was made with Goa.Goa has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop Karnataka from carrying out construction activities based on the detailed project report (DPR) approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on February 13.“The Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal has only given permission to Karnataka to use water for drinking. Now, the statement made (by Shah) is that the water will be used for irrigation. We don’t know what this is,” said Cabral.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah had said at a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Cabral reiterated that chief minister Pramod Sawant had not held any discussion whatsoever with Shah over diverting the Mhadei water in Karnataka’s favour.“I am backing the CM 100% on this. He has not made any such statement (before Shah) and he will not make it. I don’t know how Amit Shah is making this statement,” said Cabral.He said the Goa delegation had earlier gone to meet the home minister in keeping with the legal provision wherein the home minister holds negotiations to resolve any dispute existing between two states.“We don’t have any elections here, so I am condemning his (Shah’s) statement. We have two options. We can resolve it with the support from the central leadership. And if we don’t get support, we have the legal route. We will go to the courts. Ultimately, the judiciary will take all angles into consideration and decide,” said Cabral.“I do not accept the home minister’s statement. When we met him, no such discussion took place. He told us that there are BJP governments in Goa and in Karnataka and that our interests will be taken care of,” said WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.
VASCO/MARGAO: Citizens protested outside the Mormugao Port Authority (MPA) on Monday demanding that the MPA stop coal operations and immediately shift to green cargo and cruise tourism. They said that a large number of steel and power plants, which are water-guzzling industries, have been proposed near the Malaprabha river basin, and that coal handling in Goa and the diversion of the Mhadei are linked.The protesters said that the Mhadei is being diverted only to benefit these steel plants and not for the farmers or drinking water purposes for locals, as is being falsely portrayed. The coal used by these steel plants is being transported from MPA to Karnataka via the rail network, they alleged.“If coal handling is stopped in Goa, the water consumed by steel plants, which is much more than the diversion proposed, will be available for farmers in Karnataka. If coal handling is allowed in Goa, the diversion of the Mhadei at Kalsa and Bandura and, subsequently, the diversion of other rivers flowing across state borders is inevitable,” the protesters stated in a memorandum to the MPA chairperson. A large number of citizens held a peaceful rally under the banner of United Vascokars and Goans. “The coal transportation is purely for the steel plants and the profit of private corporations. There is no benefit for Goa,” the citizens stated in their memorandum to the MPA. “The Mhadei water crises will be resolved only when coal handling and transportation are stopped at MPA,” said green activist Abhijit Prabhudesai. The protesters condemned the state government for its failure to protect the state’s interests.
PANAJI: The preliminary meeting of the House committee to study issues related to the Mhadei water diversion is scheduled on February 8 at 3.30pm. The 12-member committee is headed by WRD minister Subhash Shirodkar.The other members of the committee include Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai, MLAs from BJP, Congress, MGP, AAP, RG and independent MLAs.Sardesai and Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco had written to Shirodkar to call an immediate meeting of the House committee following Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that BJP has resolved a three-decade old issue by providing water to Karnataka with the help of Goa government.During the recently concluded winter session of the state legislative assembly, chief minister Pramod Sawant had announced a 12-member committee following demands by opposition MLAs.Former CM and ex-speaker Pratapsingh Rane had said, “The House committee must take a quick decision. We are waiting for a quick decision from the committee, else they will go ahead with the work.”
PANAJI: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday that Goa has a strong legal case on the Mhadei issue, and that the state would work towards protecting the river.“Once again I am repeating that we are legally strong in the Mhadei fight, and soon you will see the results,” said Sawant. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the interlocutory application filed by Goa on February 13. The petition seeks to stop Karnataka from construction activities based on the detailed project report approved by the Centre to divert water from the Mhadei. tnn Sawant’s statement, after paying floral tributes at the martyrs’ memorial at Azad Maidan, comes in the wake of Union home minister Amit Shah’s declaration that the over three-decade-old Mhadei water sharing issue between Karnataka and Goa was “resolved” by his party to allow diversion of water to Karnataka with the help of the Goa government.Shah’s comments came even as the state is trying to stop the illegal diversion of the Mhadei by Karnataka. At the four-day winter session, after a seven-hour discussion, the Goa assembly unanimously approved a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the approval granted to Karnataka for the Mhadei diversion.In view of Shah’s statement, village panchayats across the state condemned Shah’s statement. The opposition, too, has demanded that the House committee on Mhadei discusses the issue before it’s too late.The Union home minister on Saturday congratulated the Karnataka CM and the state leaders for having “done a great job by taking along the BJP government in Goa and quenching the thirst of Karnataka by providing Mhadei water”.“I have come here today (Saturday) to tell you that BJP, by finding a solution to the long-pending fight between the two states (Goa and Karnataka), provided the Mhadei water to Karnataka, which will be beneficial to farmers across many districts of Karnataka,” Shah said, addressing a public rally at Kittur in Belagavi district.Earlier, Sawant had led a delegation to Delhi to meet Shah and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to press the state’s demand to withdraw the approval granted to the DPR. The state also demanded the formation of the Mhadei Water Management Authority to stop illegal diversion of water from the Mhadei basin by Karnataka.
PANAJI: Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), the hospitality arm of the Tata Group, has prepared a robust expansion roadmap for Goa, and intends to invest around Rs 300 crore in new properties in the state. The company is looking to add to its existing portfolio of 23 hotels in Goa by opening up several new resorts over the next two to three years.Among the new projects IHCL intends to set up is a “super luxury dream project” at the Fort Aguada and Taj Holiday Village, Sinquerim.“There are a lot of projects in the pipeline that we want to showcase in the next few years. One of our dream projects is going to come up at the Fort Aguada and Taj Holiday Village. We want to pump in a lot of money into the state,” senior vice-president, IHCL-Goa, Vincent Ramos, told TOI in an exclusive interview.Currently, IHCL operates 23 resorts and homestays in the state, and has emerged as the largest hospitality chain in Goa’s tourism sector. IHCL operates resorts under a group of brands, which includes Taj, SeleQtions, Vivanta, Ginger, and homestays under the ama Stays & Trails brand.Led by IHCL’s chief executive officer and managing director Puneet Chhatwal, IHCL aims to have around 1,700 rooms in Goa under its portfolio by December 31.“Goa has been the largest market. Goa’s expansion has been the largest in our portfolio, and it has been the fastest. We are growing in other states, but not as aggressively as the way we are growing in Goa, and that is why you can see the huge profits,” said Ramos.In 2021-22, amidst the pandemic, IHCL raked in a profit of Rs 160 crore just from Goa. The state contributed 45% to IHCL’s topline in 2021-22, but going forward, this is expected to settle at around 40%.Despite Covid-19 acting as a dampener on tourism and travel, IHCL saw sustained demand from domestic and international travellers for Goa. The opening of Goa’s second international airport at Mopa has also prompted the Tata Group to place large bets on North Goa.“We are expanding exponentially in Goa. SeleQtions, Ginger, and ama Stay & Trails will witness new additions. Right now, our investment in the hotels that are in the pipeline and the ones that have been recently opened up would be around Rs 300 crore,” said Ramos.Asked if IHCL has identified plans to set up a resort next to the greenfield airport, Ramos said that the company would certainly like to be the first mover. “We are looking at potential opportunities around the new airport, however, nothing has been confirmed yet,” he said.Ramos said that the company is in close discussions with the government and local partners to set up the new resorts. He said that over the next 24 months, IHCL will focus on the Ginger brand, which has proved to be a success for the company. “Ginger is our success story in Goa because we make 60% of our profit there,” he said.Given the rapid expansion plans for the state, IHCL is well en route to strengthen its position as the largest hospitality chain in Goa.