Following yesterday’s protest by NGOs Goencho Avaaz and The Green Brigade along with locals outside Colvale, PWD Minister Ramakrishna (Sudin) Dhavlikar has given his assurance that the 6 mango trees at the entrance to Colvale that are almost 200 years old will not be felled. After a campaign started by Colvalkar, noted fashion designer and Padmashree winner Wendell Rodricks went viral on social media, Goans were up in arms against the destruction of this local landmark.
Trees older than our grandparents
The co-convenor of Goencho Avaaz, Captain Viriato Fernandes confirmed that Dhavlikar on a phone call gave his assurance that the trees outside Colvale on NH66 will not be cut down. The PWD Minister said, “At no cost the (six mango) trees will be cut; neither will I allow anyone to cut them off. These are older than our grandparents, how can we cut them?” He further said, “a ‘green side’ will be established near the highway adjoining the new Mandovi bridge.” Fernandes addressing the media informed, “The team of Goencho Avaaz on behalf of environmentalists, villagers of Colvale and all other NGOs including Green Brigade is thankful to the minister for this kind gesture in saving the trees and agreeing to engage with Goencho Avaaz to find an alternate solution. When I spoke to the minister, he said he has been fighting to save the trees since 2002.”
Sarpanch of Colvale Nityanand Kandolkar said that the mango trees are there since the Portuguese era and people traveling towards Mapusa used to take rest under the shady trees. He said that the mango trees are the identity of Colvale village and need to be protected at all costs.
No admission without permission
As reported yesterday by ItsGoa, the environmentalists from Goencho Avaaz and The Green Brigade conducted a ‘chipko movement’ to prevent the contractors, M/s MVR Infra Pvt Ltd, 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.
Goencho Avaaz has been instrumental in this effort to protect the trees on NH66. The team was personally involved in contacting the PWD Minister with a request to direct M/s MVR Projects Pvt Ltd not to cut the trees till an alternate solution was found. In addition, a team from Goencho Avaaz rushed to the office of the Chief Engineer and submitted a memorandum not to cut the trees. This urgent action and the unity of the people together with the NGOs has resulted in saving these ancient mango trees.