Scores of students from schools and colleges across Goa actively took part in strong participation, “Kneel for Mollem” to stand united in saving Goa’s forests. The Mollem forests – Goa’s rich biodiversity hotspot – is at the receiving end of three developmental projects being proposed, that is bound to make a dent onto Goa’s rich and diverse ecosystem.
The projects – four-laning of a national highway (NH-4A), laying of a line-in lineout transmission line from Dharwad in Karnataka to Xeldem village in South Goa and double-tracking of the railway line from Castle Rock in Karnataka to Collem in Goa – have been widely opposed by people from across the state.
Young student initiatives like these have been gaining momentum, which largely has been involved in spreading awareness on these projects, and how, in the long run, they will affect the state and the environment at large. These massive ‘developmental’ projects by the government are pushing Goa’s forests and biodiversity into the red zone – the zone which we may never be able to recover from, and will fail to conserve our forests, many have claimed.
“Kneel for Mollem” has evoked a wide response on various social media platforms across the state. The main idea around this was to urge political leaders to discuss the projects that have been sanctioned through Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park.
“We basically wanted the issue of Mollem to be brought up for the discussion during the assembly session, so as to know what steps our government has taken or will be taking and what is the legal update they have got favouring the projects, including where the government stand is on these projects,” said Akshay Shet, who was a part of the Kneel for Mollem initiative.
Several political leaders have expressed their solidarity with students on the three projects and have called out the government to discuss the same. Several letters have been written to different MLA’s to raise the issue during the assembly session.
Leader of Opposition, Digambar Kamat had applauded the efforts of the youngsters and pledged his support to them in fighting to save Goa’s pristine forests. “Appreciate efforts of young citizens Chrisene Oliveira, Ninoschka Pinto and Lorraine Fernandes who called on me with a memorandum raising concerns over proposed t3 projects at Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary & Mollem National Park. I promise my complete support to them,” he tweeted earlier last week.
Appreciate efforts of young citizens Chrisene Oliveira, Ninoschka Pinto &
Lorraine Fernandes who called on me with a Memorandum raising concerns over proposed 3 projects at Mahavir Wild Life Sanctuary & Mollem National Park. I promise my complete support to them. @INCGoa pic.twitter.com/97OyAUKwPl
— Digambar Kamat (@digambarkamat) July 20, 2020
Other leaders, including Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco, Vijay Sardesai and Rohan Kaunte have also expressed their support, and have written letters to the state government and also to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the hon’ble Supreme Court.
Scientist. environmentalist and many other active citizens have stressed on important factors such as fragmentation of the land, destruction of forests cover, alteration of wildlife corridors and a rise in human-animal conflict if these projects take place. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people in Goa have been actively fighting another battle – to save Goa’s forests.