Several fisherfolks living in Maxem (also spelt Mashem) village in South Goa are opposing road construction works in their area. The road is a bypass to the National Highway66 (old NH17) and includes a small bridge over the Maxem river and a long embankment along the river bank. The latter entails landfilling on the banks up to 3 metres in width and 5 metres in height. The landfilling took place as early as the year 2000, and the fisherfolks have been fighting against it with the state public works department ever since. Fisherfolks' houses are built along the banks where a huge mud wall has been built, due to which they have lost direct access to the river. The river is not far from the sea and the houses have become floodprone as there is no way for rainwater to drain into the river. Fisherfolks also complain that the lack of ventilation has caused inconvenience and health problems.
The PWD had initially told the locals that the embankments were temporary. But the project came to a standstill within a year i.e. in 2001 and the PWD eventually never removed the embankments. Many of these houses got partially submerged in the infamous Canacona floods of 2009.
The project, which comes under the Union Ministry of Road Transport and executed by the state PWD has been restarted in 2016, 16 years after the first landfilling. In 2015 the villagers also sent letters to the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority alleging that no permission was taken under the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011, even though the area is a tidally influenced estuary close to the sea. The PWD then applied for CRZ clearance. An expert member of GCZMA submitted in a field inspection report in September 2015 that the embankment was a "cause of concern" as it was close to the high tide line and recommended further studies to establish its impact. No such studies were carried out and the GCZMA accorded approval without deliberating it in any other meeting.
The fisherfolks report that local PWD officials recently (in mid2017) gave verbal promises that the filling would be removed and a road would be built on stilts. The fishermen are satisfied with this proposal as it resolves their problems of river access, rainwater drainage and ventilation. But there is no official word on this change in the plan even as work on the road is progressing. The original Coastal Regulatory Zone permission issued in 2015 does not mention a road on stilts, and until the latest (June 2017) meeting of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority no application has come up for modification of the 2015 permission to incorporate road on stilts.
Demand/Contention of the Affected Community
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Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)
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Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority, Government of Goa, Public Works Department
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