Is Goa prepared to face Canacona flood replay?

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 04 October 2013 23:50 IST

Is Goa government prepared to face the natural disaster of the horrifying flashfloods which Canacona taluka witnessed four years ago? It appears that hardly anything has been done to minimize the disaster while Goa is witnessing a similar situation of rainfall at the beginning of October.

It has suddenly started pouring since last week, recording excessive 20 per cent more rainfall than expected. In fact the official records indicate over 12 mm rainfall recorded in last 24 hours.

“There is no similar kind of situation existing right now, which was witnessed four years ago”, claims K V Singh, director of India Meteorological Centre in Panaji.

But people in Canacona are scared since the flashfloods had taken a toll of human beings as well as the cattle besides houses and vegetation getting washed away, for the first time in the history of Goa.

The flashfloods had occurred on 2 October 2009 in parts of Canacona with water flushing out of the Western Ghat hills all along from Gaodongri to Loliem, with water level in both Galgibag and Talpona rivers reaching the height of 10 metres.

Trajano D’Mello, vice president of the Nationalist Congress Party, is in fact the first one to raise the alarm, while alleging that not a single step has been taken, recommended by the committee of experts.

“Let me find out what has been done exactly in terms of implementation of the committee recommendations”, chief minister Manohar Parrikar replies, only when the media asks about it.

A committee headed by Dr Satish Shetye, then director of National Institute of Oceanography, had alerted the authorities while listing out 14 such locations, 10 out of which are highly vulnerable to such kind of flashfloods in future.

The locations were identified after analyzing the fact that the flashfloods had occurred in a valley surrounded by hillocks from all three sides. Water had flushed out from these hillocks, creating havoc in the hilly region as well as the plains and the coastal villages of Canacona.

The Shetye committee has identified four such places in one Sattari taluka alone - Valpoi, Sateri, Chorla and Virdi, extending it up to Sankhli, which falls in Bicholim taluka.

In Canacona, however, only Partagal has been identified as the most vulnerable.

But it is Sanguem town and surrounding area in Sanguem taluka, Mollem in Dharbandora taluka and Tisk and Ponda in Ponda taluka.

The committee has also identified less vulnerable areas – Saligao and Siolim in Bardez and Verna and Loutolim in Salcete.

After studying all the subsequent reports prepared by the sub-committees, D’Mello lists out various recommendations made in the final comprehensive report, once again prepared by Dr Shetye, the now vice chancellor of Goa University.

It includes afforestation of the hillocks of Canacona as well as disiltation of Galgibag and Talpona rivers, right from the places where it originated. Today they are full of huge amount of mud that flushed out from the hillocks in 2009.

“Nothing has been done till date to either grow trees in the hilly region or disilt these rivers,” points out D’Mello.

He also points out at the suggestions of installing Doplar Radar at the Panaji observatory and installing Automated Weather Stations at all the 14 vulnerable points suggested in the reports.

“Not a single AWS has been installed till date,” alleges D’Mello.

Singh, who was the member of the first committee, is not even aware of these final recommendations.

The Panaji Observatory is presently having three AWS installed in Panaji, Vasco and Karwar while another one would be installed in Balli, said Singh.

Doplar Radar, the most required installation having a range of 400 sq kms that can sense any kind of cyclone or similar disaster, is caught up in a controversy.

According to Singh, the Doplar Radar is lying idle since 2010 since the defense ministry objected to its installation as it was brought from China.

“Talks are going on between our ministry and the defense ministry and it would be hopefully sorted out positively”, he feels.

D’Mello, on the other hand, asks why all the funds collected from the people of Goa for Canacona disaster were diverted to Uttarakhand disaster without spending a single rupee on all the recommendations made by this committee.

Chief minister Parrikar, who knows very little about the whole issue, has just assured to find out, not knowing whether he is actually serious about his assurance.

On the other hand, the Panaji observatory has predicted a heavy rainfall even tomorrow and moderate rainfall for the full week. 

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