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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Church in Goa flags environment preservation as ’emergency before humankind’

Archbishop Ferrao’s message comes at a time when Goa is faced with a number of issues with environment conservation.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
July 21, 2021 9:09:00 am
Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao (YouTube)

The Church in Goa, in its Pastoral Letter for 2021-2022, has asked priests and the faithful in the state “to be protectors and stewards of God’s creation.”

In his annual pastoral letter, Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao stressed on “an emergency before humankind”.

“There is a challenge before us which needs to be addressed without wasting time: The challenge of preserving clean air, clean water, hills and forests, fields and rivers. The more we delay to listen to the cry of God’s creation, the further we walk the path of self-destruction. There is a need for governments and citizens to work together to fulfill their responsibility towards God’s creation,” the Archbishop stressed in the letter, under the theme ‘Stay with Us’.

In Goa, the Archbishop issues a letter at the beginning of every Pastoral Year (in June). It is addressed to priests, nuns, the faithful and to people of good will in general. A pastoral is an open letter by a bishop containing general instruction or directions for behaviour in particular circumstances.

Archbishop Ferrao’s message comes at a time when Goa is faced with a number of issues with environment conservation.

The three linear projects cutting through the Western Ghats – doubling of railway tracks, four-laning of a national highway and the Goa-Tanmar Transmission Project – have been met with staunch opposition from environmentalists and locals who came together under the ‘Save Mollem’ banner in November last year.

At a ‘Save Mollem’ protest. (Image: Save Mollem Campaign)

These projects were cleared by the Centre last year despite red-flags being raised at various levels since they would cut through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary (BMWS) and the Mollem National Park (MNP) in South Goa.

On Sunday, Goa Forward Party (GFP) president Vijai Sardesai wrote to Union Minister of State for Tourism, Ports and Shipping and waterways, Shripad Naik, asking him to make good use of his newly assigned portfolios and prevent Goa from “being transformed into a coal transportation hub”.

The Congress had earlier announced that if voted to power in the next Assembly election, it will scrap the projects that are detrimental to Goa’s environment.

On July 8, Goans also attended a public hearing past midnight amid heavy rain over the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP).

The draft CZMP, prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai – an agency approved by the Centre – had stoked a controversy in Goa in February-March after it met with criticism from locals, environmentalists and political parties. In Goa, with a 105 km coastline, discontent had brewed over a number of issues including the duration to respond to the draft, re-zoning of beach areas and accommodating allegedly illegal constructions.

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