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Is Margao’s Western Bypass road-work ready for monsoons?

While Goa received a few spells of rain coupled with thunder and lightning, concern of the residents of Navelim, Nuvem, Mungul, Benaulim, Fradilem, Khareband and Shirvoddem, the Herald Team decided to take a look at the Western Bypass roads works currently underway to see if there are any arrangements to manage a flood like situation in case of incessant rainfall.

And the answer was an obvious NO from the authorities and the Highway developers.As pictures taken by the Herald Team already suggest and show, flowing from the smallest spells of rainfall for three days, the question is what happens when the monsoons come pouring in.

The Collector’s Office at Margao, led by the Collector Anjali Sherawat, shows us that the Disaster Management Plan has already been uploaded on the website for the entire state of Goa, something that came into fore when the Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte, a few weeks, back chaired the State Disaster Management meeting and urged Highway Development Authorities and Highway developers to carry out a study on flooding keeping in mind the highways works and the water bodies along these highway works.

But interestingly despite the Collector pointing out that the necessary database has been uploaded on the website having contacts of mamlatdar’s, crane operators and others Herald Team was shocked to notice that the uploaded document is of the year 2015 before the Highway Works commenced and not after. To make matters worse even the South Goa Collectorate is yet to inspect the Highway works site and assess flooding issues. Even the Offsite Management Plan uploaded by the office of the Collectorate for Disaster Management is of 2002 and is completely outdated.

“In the past we recollect an incident of police constables stationed at The Disaster Management Cell at Margao to be watching pornography instead of carrying out their duties. Our fear here in Fradilem is that the highway works have come right to our house. We’re neither served notices for rehabilitation nor demolition with mud of over eight metre high placed near our house. In a situation like this in case of any flooding, what are we to complain about when the Highway works is yet to recognise us in their plan,” questions Nicholas Pereira.

While Jatin Ashok, a crane operator carrying out the Highway Works at Shirvoddem, says he’s completely clueless of whether work will stop in the monsoons or not or how he will move out his machinery in case of a floods though he’s worried that the water level has risen with just three days of rain and is in surface with the roadworks while his team is battling against time to lay the piles for culvert besides the Saipem Lake highway works.

“The PWD didn’t tell us of the water bodies firstly and the river tributary, we carried out land-filling then came the issue of over bridges, now we’re stuck with slow work and lack of debris for land-filling,” says Manoj Jha, a contractor at the site near Nuvem, wherein the underpass for the Majorda road is connected and road works are on full swing.

“We’re already delayed on building these culverts, but we have no feasibility study and the course of the river tributary and it looks like we’ll have to face the wrath in the monsoons. The barricades and retaining wall for the new highway is complete but still we fear our road works will get washed away,” explains Manoj Jha whose non-committal to discuss the repercussions of the flooding considering the houses around Seraulim, Mungul and Nuvem, where the delayed bypass works are being carried out on a full swing basis.

Surprisingly the Nuvem and Seraulim Panchayat Secretary are unwilling to discuss disaster management and the highway works but they inform Herald that they’re not taken into confidence of these highway works in their village and in fact not even submitted a plan of the Rs 200 crores highway works that are crossing and cutting across fields and ponds in their respective villages. [H]

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