On February 22, ItsGoa ran an article regarding the proposed felling of over 3500 fruit bearing trees to facilitate the widening of the Mumbai-Goa highway. In the article, we referenced a campaign started by noted fashion designer, Padmashree Wendell Rodricks to save the trees. The campaign reached close to 4000 signatures, resulting in the post going viral on social media, yet after garnering all this attention and support, contractors were sent to start work on the highway with their first order of business being to cut down the mango trees at the entrance to Colvale yesterday.
The Chipko Movement
From 9:30 am till well after 6 pm, protestors and activists conducted a ‘chipko movement’ to prevent the contractors from harming the magnificent mango trees in the middle of the highway. Led by Wendell Rodricks himself, the locals stood their ground while they questioned the contractor about the permissions obtained, and the legalities involved in the work they were doing. In videos (which have been taken down) posted by Rodricks on his Facebook account, you could see the fashion designer and activist question the contractor, the contractor, in turn, admitting that they do not explicitly have permission to cut down the trees. In the videos, Rodricks vowed to do whatever it takes to stop the trees from being cut. “If they are going to cut these trees I am going to lie down on this road and die for this country,” he said, “There is a Supreme Court order that you cannot touch a structure that is over 100 years old and if you try to demolish the chapel or these trees I will not keep quiet.”
Making up the crowd were also members of activist groups Goencho Avaaz and The Goa Green Brigade. Members of the groups were seen forming chains around the trees as part of the chipko movement, while others joined in the interrogation of the contractors. Roshan Mathias a Goencho Avaaz member said, “When traveling on this route we would stop and sit here if it was hot. If you ask anyone to draw something related to Colvale they would draw a picture of this location. We ask the government and local MLA to stop the trees from being cut and revoke the license if any.”
We need to raise a larger cry and prevent this massacre from taking place. As a community, we need to do whatever we can to let the Government and its departments know that we will not lose the essence of Goa for the sake of development. We have already lost thousands of trees on NH66 and other roads for the sake of road widening, and we can see the adverse effects of this change in our ecology. To add your name to the original petition, you can click here, or voice your opinion directly to the decision makers by calling or texting the numbers below:
- PWD Minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar: 9822134664
- Chief Engineer to the PWD Minister: 9168694707