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Locals cry foul over fencing, tree cutting on Betalbatim beach

Fear that it would result in blocking traditional access to shore

Story: the goan | network | 17th July 2017, 05:35 Hrs
MARGAOrBetalbatim village witnessed an uproar on Sunday after villagers and social activists cried foul over the felling of casuarina trees and vegetation on sand dunes, besides fencing of the world famous Betalbatim beach -- visited by both the locals and picnickers alike. rThe villagers have vowed to fight a sustained battle to get the barbed wire fencing removed even as they received backing of the newly-elected panchayat body headed by Sarpanch Constancio Miranda and deputy Minu Antonio Fernandes as the duo told the media on Sunday that they would officially lodge complaints with the authorities concerned against the tree felling and fencing. rThe villagers pointed out that the barbed wire fencing will prevent the stakeholders, including local fishermen, shack owners, besides locals and visitors from entering the beach. rThe incident had come to light on Saturday when a group of eight labourers went about felling the casuarina trees from a huge property overlooking the beach. Sarpanch Constancio informed that they immediately called the Colva police, while the forest department also made its presence felt on the beach. rA local villager Menino Cota told the media that they had a free access to the beach since their childhood, adding that the fencing will not only block the locals, but the picnickers as well. “How can they clear the vegetation from the sand dune and cut the casuarina trees. The villages will unitedly oppose the fencing on the beach with the help of the local body,” he warned. rAnother local resident Marcus D’Souza said that the casuarina trees were planted to protect the sand dunes to prevent soil erosion and inundation of the village. r Social activist Judith Almeida said nobody can interfere in no development zone, adding that one cannot even erect concrete on the sand dune. r“On what basis is the fencing carried out on the sand due when barbed wires are not allowed. Local communities have been protected in the CRZ area,” she said. rSarpanch Miranda pointed out that the Panchayat had on Saturday called up the Colva police, adding that the Panchayat would move the authorities to stop further development at the site.