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Saline Water Incursion at Neura Damaging Crops; Threatening Livelihoods, Claims Farmer

A massive influx of saline water in Neura fields, which form part of the extensive Agasaim-Banastarim chazzan belt, has damaged crops in the area, as surging waters from the Cumbharjua canal continue to submerge more cultivable areas.

Ayushi Raina
Local farmers' livelihoods have been harmed as a result of crop loss, according to local farmers
Local farmers' livelihoods have been harmed as a result of crop loss, according to local farmers

A significant influx of saline water in Neura fields, which are part of the vast Agasaim-Banastarim khazan belt, has harmed crops in the area, while the Cumbharjua canal continues to submerge more cultivable lands. 

Local farmers' livelihoods have been harmed as a result of crop loss, according to local farmers. 

Interestingly, the village bundh and nine sluice gates were recently renovated at a cost of Rs.9 crore. Flood water, on the other hand, laps the Pilar-Old Goa major district road and practically surrounds the Neura panchayat building at high tide. 

"Rising water levels might also be caused by breaches in other bundhs, such as Ofla-Domzo, which authorities are failing to repair," a farmer in Neura stated. 

Meanwhile, Khazan Action Committee (KAC) convenor Ramrao Wagh stated, "If the reconstructed bundh has been harmed, the contractor responsible must be blacklisted." 

Furthermore, he suspects that the influx of saline water is intentional since sluice gate operators stand to gain from a larger prawn capture over a larger submerged region. Wagh has sought action against the perpetrators in a memorandum to several authorities, including the governor, government ministries, and the Agasaim police. 

The Agasaim-Banastarim khazan belt is perhaps Goa's largest. However, the cessation of agricultural activity as a consequence of increased input costs, as well as circumstances such as breaches in the major Ofla-Domzo bundh on the Cumbharjua canal, has resulted in enormous tracts of cultivable land getting submerged. Mangroves have grown over barren fields too. 

KAC was created by farmers from Neura, Azossim-Mandur, and Carambolim to revitalize agriculture by advocating for the conservation of bundhs. 

The Agasaim-Banastarim khazan belt was once a rice granary. Its fertile fields and rivers provided plenty of crops and fish. 

“The Neura khazan once had 900 tenants registered as voters, but now, due to delay in settling tenancy cases, the voting is hardly 50,” Wagh said. 

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