Goa doctor rejuvenates springs, lakes to combat climate change

Panaji, Nov 26 , Goa which is facing coastline erosion, change in rainfall and fruiting patterns and flower blossoming seasons, has forced environmentalists, professionals and individuals to work towards combating the impact of climate change and bringing solutions to protect the environment.

Dr Dattaram Desai, a general practitioner, had started his journey of conserving water by rejuvenating lakes, springs, wells and ponds in 1991, which kindled hope and potable water for many families of the rural areas.

Speaking to IANS, Dattaram Desai, from the village Savoi-Verem in South Goa, said that his initial work was a success story, which fostered to create a group of like minded people and work towards achieving the goal of water conservation.

“Climate change is inevitable as pollution is ever on rise as we are using cars which emit carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases. It is going to change. But this is impacting seasonal patterns and hence, we can witness unseasonal rain and other things, even cloudburst. All around the year there is rain and due to pollution, earth’s temperature is rising,” he said, adding that cities are getting flooded due to climate change.

“Human kind has to face it. But to combat it we have to plant trees, conserve water and avoid using plastic,” Dr. Desai added.

“Basically, being from a remote area as I used to move and visit patients at their homes, I found there was water scarcity problem in some areas where there used to be plenty of water,” Desai said.

He said that after liberation of Goa, village people discontinued engaging in community work for conserving water, and hence the problems arose.

“The locals had a notion that the government should do it. They neglected it and hence, the issues. There are many lakes, wells and springs around and the water from which cannot be used for drinking purpose as the sources are contaminated,” he said.

“In 1991, on the hill at Pali area of Savoi Verem, I saw a pond which was destroyed and people were walking through it as there was no water. Later along with my team, out of sheer curiosity, I started working on it and we desilted it. This offered a new lease of life to springs and the so-called pond was rejuvenated once again. Later, we could provide water to families living in the vicinity using pipes,” he said.

“It was a success story then. This encouraged me and I started to find more avenues and created a group called ‘Jalyatra’, where many professionals joined voluntarily. We started visiting other villages to learn about traditional water sources and started working on it,” he said, adding during Corona period they had to stop this work.

He said that in 2015 there was less rain and hence shortage of water was witnessed. “This forced us to work for water conservation on hills and other places,” he said.

According to noted environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, the impact of climate change can easily be seen in the Western Ghats, from where the rivers Zuari and Mandovi originate.

“The flow of rivers has become less and it is not as vigorous as it was earlier. These things are occuring due to the destruction of forests. In the last two years, there has been rampant cutting of trees and forest fires have been taking place frequently due to extreme weather conditions,” Kerkar said.

“The blossoming of Karvi has been impacted due to climate change,” he rued, adding that there was no mass flowering of Karvi in recent times in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghat areas of Sattari.

Karvi, also known as Strobilanthes Callosus are green shrubs that bloom once in eight years and the flowers vary in colour from purplish-blue to pink.

Rich in pollen and nectar, Karvi flowers attract a wide range of species of butterflies, birds and insects including honey bees.

Kerkar said that the Karvi honey is relished by sloth bears and other wild animals that are now missing out on this vital source of nutrition for them.

Kerkar said that climate change has impacted Western Ghats, coastal areas and biodiversity in the state.

Noted researcher Dr Nitin Borkar, while working towards combating climate change, started to eradicate menace of plastic waste and with help of fellow villager Sanjay Bhat Borkar started a programme to collect plastic waste from people.

“We started it in 2009 and we got support from people, who used to keep this plastic waste at designated places and then our workforces used to collect it and send it for recycling,” he said.

“Then Governor of Goa Dr Mridula Sinha donated Rs 50,000 to our Borim Development Trust, in appreciation of the good work. Later, the Panchayat took over that work and started collecting plastic waste,” he said.

National Fish Workers Forum (NFF) General Secretary Olencio Simoes, said that there is a need to protect coastal area from eroding and hence, government should start taking measures. “Wherever possible we started growing mangroves and screwpines to protect coast,” he said.


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