Wendell, NGOs urge Guv to reject ‘Coconut’ Bill, redefine a Tree

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 28 January 2016 22:14 IST

Quite a few NGOs led by lawyers and social activists, including celebrity fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, today urged Goa Governor not to give assent to the amendment bill, involving coconut, passed by the Assembly.

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) Goa has made a valid suggestion of changing the definition of tree, by including palms, bamboos, brushwood and cane in the Preservation of Trees Act, 1984.

The Assembly recently amended the act by deleting Section 1 A, which said that the definition of tree also includes coconut, but added the word coconut in section 12 A, which dealt with only ‘removal of trees which are in ruinous state or likely to fall.’

This exercise of the BJP government has led to ‘liberating’ coconut tree from other provisions of the act, which dealt with preservation of trees as well planting of trees when cut, thus giving total freedom to cut any amount of coconut trees without permission.

The memorandum, signed and presented by Adv Dolorosa Tulkar, thus suggests that tree be redefined under the Indian Forest Act 1927 and not as defined in the Preservation of Trees Act.

The Goa act restricts tree only to the woody plant whose branches spring from and are supported upon the trunk, which obviously does not apply to palm trees like coconut etc.

“It is evident that the new amendment has been carried out in a haphazard manner without much thought and scientific basis”, states the memorandum.

Speaking to the media at the Raj Bhavan after meeting the Governor, Rodricks said the coconut tree needs urgent protection in Goa and the amendment has hurt the sentiments of the people of Goa.

“It will only benefit big business interests that are being cleared under the Investment Promotion Board and other major housing and luxury tourism projects coming up in Goa. Hundreds of coconut trees have already been felled in the name of development”, he observed.

Members of the delegation also stated that the coconut tree is an important part of Goa’s eco-system and lakhs of trees dot the coastline, which protects this eco-sensitive, fragile coastal zone from the vagaries of the weather, flooding and can act as buffers against natural disasters and soil erosion.

Coconut is also used for cooking daily food, coconut water, coconut oil, coconut palm jaggery, desiccated coconut, coir, shell products etc, they pointed out.

Precisely this is the reason, said Adv Tulkar, the government has passed the Coconut Development Board Act 1979, for development of the coconut industry.

The delegation has also urged the Governor Mridula Sinha to get included in the act proper description of ruinous trees, as defined in the Kerala Preservation of Trees Act 1986.

The delegation also included AAP leader Valmiky Naik, Adv Caroline Colaco, Raboni Shah and others.

A similar kind of memorandum was also submitted to the Governor by yet another delegation.

It consisted of Congress MLA Alex Reginald Lourenco, Armando Gonsalves and Shaeen Gomes of Goa Forgiving Trust and Prajal Sakhardande of History-Heritage Action Group.

(Click below to read more details in the memorandum)

Momorandum on Coconut

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Is Goa land of hypocrites or self contradiction? Its both. Today we find green lovers in cities like Panaji, Margao, Vasco which was once green. They now deny urbanisation and all the happiness(?) to their village fellowmen. These maad mogi and nalla wadi are not aware sichan pepper (tephal); garcinia indica(kokum); cassia tora(taikhilo); aegle marmelo (bel); sanvar tree etc have vanished. Nobody cried and nobody will cry. Good politics but bad green love.

- Madhav Bastodker, Ponda | 29 th January 2016 06:56


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