In Goa, coconuts may soon be stripped of the tree status. Read what residents are doing to prevent this.
I magine Goa, with its beautiful sunny beaches, amazing seafood, long stretches of coconut trees, and …. STOP. Sorry to wake you up from your reverie, but you may no longer be able to call them trees. Confused? So are we.
The State government has introduced a bill in the State Assembly seeking to amend the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act and classify the coconut tree as a palm and not a tree. In fact, Goa’s Environment Minister Rajendra Alrekar has been quoted saying that the earlier governments had wrongly defined the coconut as a tree.
What is going on here?
Environmentalists and the Opposition fear that the amendment would encourage large-scale felling of trees. They feel industrial projects may now come to replace large coconut plantations.
“Land is gold in Goa. So it doesn’t take much to realise that this move by the government is yet another step towards making way for the real estate lobby,” says Anzil Fernandes, an assistant professor at St. Xavier’s College in Goa.
On January 11, 2016, a whole bunch of residents blocked the NH 17 in north Goa and staged a protest against the government’s move. Inspired by the Chipko movement in the 1970s, as many as 50 persons also went ahead to hug trees along along the highway. They feel that by derecognising coconut trees, that they claim are a strong part of the Goan identity, the government is making a mistake.
People are expressing their protest in various ways.
Photo source: Facebook
A petition has been started by Clayton Povo.
Meanwhile, here’s what Goan cartoonist Billy Joe Fernandes is doing to express his dismay over the issue:
Photo source: Facebook
And finally, Friz Love has taken his love for coconut trees to another level. Here’s how he’s paying a tribute:
Coconut Trees- By Friz❤️MUST WATCH ! for every GOAN
If u love Goa, just watch, write a post and share it to each and every GOAN. Let the message go to all. I love my Goa this is my little contribution to save Goa and to make Goans aware about the same. Happy listening Friz❤️
Posted by Friz Love on Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Residents feel that as the pressure mounts, maybe the government will change it’s view on the matter. Until then they are keeping their fingers crossed.