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 Jul, 21 - 2014   projects

Project Proposal:

This proposal is drafted by Dr Manoj Borkar on behalf of the Biodiversity Research Cell, Carmel College, Nuvem, for the Benaulim Environment Trust; execution subject to acceptance of the funding agency and approval of the institutional authorities.

THE RIVER SAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT- Transforming environmental problems into opportunities for the economic and social development.

1. Project Summary:

River Sal is a major river of the Southern taluka of Salcette in the state of Goa, India. It is a 35 kms.long river meandering from the town of Margao to the coastal village of Cavellossim where it finally meets the Arabian Sea.

Being the lifeline of the entire taluka, River Sal acquires paramount socio-ecological importance, both geographically as well as socio-economically in this region. It supports a large fraction of the local population for livelihood in terms of navigation, fishing, agriculture, etc; hence the full utilization this resource would depend on the quality of its water. However, the multiplicity of its uses also predisposes it to degradation of quality.

The failing ecological health of the Sal River is a major concern today. The water quality is lowered due to severe pollution, mainly by in-organic, non-biodegradable matter such as plastics reducing its functional and aesthetic qualities as well as non-industrial and non-toxic organic material causing mass Eutrophication.

The inflow of organic pollutants is caused by run-off from agricultural farms, release of domestic effluents illegally into the river waters, waste matter from the coastal hospitality as well as the domestic sector and also by means of run-off along the geological gradients from higher altitude areas. This has resulted in the growth and excessive spread of an aquatic weed called Salvinia mollesta. This weed has a very rapid growth which results in infestation of large areas of fresh water surfaces by dense biomass thus obstructing the penetration of sunlight into the water and choking the river to ecological death.

Thus, excessive enrichment of the river waters has caused dense algal mat ultimately resulting in the depletion of oxygen causing a major alteration in the pattern of species diversity potentially causing an ecological imbalance.

Dumping of solid wastes has impeded the hydrodynamics of this system and alteration of its flow pattern. The plastics have resulted in the lowering of the run-off velocity of the river waters and also stagnation in certain areas causing excellent breeding grounds for disease causing pathogens, vectors etc.

Release of toxic waste in some areas has resulted in contamination of fish, a potential health hazard and a setback to the economic stability of the dependents.

The degradation of the visual quality of the river and its ambience has also cast a shadow on the tourism prospects of the region, as concepts such as river-based eco-tourism is nowadays recognized as a serious option of rural income generation.

Although severe, the problem of the Sal River can be reversed with timely remedial action. Recognizing the problems, adopting a techno-fix approach fortified with Environment Education and Awareness resulting in a long term sustainable income generating solution for the stakeholders would prove to be the most prudent investment.

2. General description

A. Project Title: THE RIVER SAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT-Transforming Environmental problems into opportunities for economic and social development.

B. Project Budget:

Annexure on the budget attached

C. Project Location

BET Office for administrative purpose and   BRC, Carmel College for technical execution

Region/State/Nearest City):

‘River Sal’ is a 35 kms. long river that flows through the ‘Salcette’ taluka in the state of Goa, India. The nearest major town is Margao.T                   

D. Duration:

2 years for collection and collation of data, community oriented and sector specific action can begin within 2 to 2.5 years from the initiation of the study.The technical report shall be submitted within 3 months of the completion of the study.   

E. Person responsible for the Project:

Administrative liaisoning – Mr. Tony Correia Afonso, Chairman, BET, Benaulim

Technical consultancy – (Principal Investigator) Dr Manoj R. Borkar, Chairman, BRC, Carmel College, Nuvem Goa.

3. Project Description

A. Goal of the project:

i) Long term Management Protocol for the improvement of river Sal and its catchment areas while seeking

a) Waste management solutions,

b)Employment opportunities

c) Women’s empowerment.

ii)Suggesting a prophylaxis for further damage control.communities living along river banks and the one’s depending on such resources for their livelihood.

B. Purpose/Objectives of the project:

i)A detailed survey of the entire 35 kms. of the Sal river from the town of Margao upto the mouth of the river where it meets the Arabian sea; so as to map its entire course while identifying its catchment areas.

ii) To characterize & determine the extent of pollution in the river by adopting standard A.P.H.A protocols.

iii) To identify the sources of pollution in the river.

iv)To identify all stakeholders and assign responsibilities by defining their roles in the process.

v) Designing field protocol inclusive of EE, public hearing and techno-practical solutions.

vi) Execution of the field protocols for data collection.

vii) Data collation.

C. Project Outputs:

The project will help in creating a detailed database on the river regarding the following:

1. A detailed map of the Sal River with its present status will be generated.

1. The study will generate data on the pollution levels of the river.

2. Information regarding the various sources of pollution in the river will be compiled. It will help create a general awareness about pollution problems of rivers and its effects on affected resident populations.

3. It will help establish a perspective that environment protection is to be seen as an opportunity and not primarily a restriction to socio-economic development.

D. Major Activities (Required for achieving the Project Purpose):

  1. Establishing the extent (physical boundaries within which the survey will be conducted) and the scope of the project.
  2. Obtaining survey plans from the relevant Govt. depts. and updating the same by means of ground truthing.
  3. Demarcating and segregating the selected area for purpose of convenience while planning and implementation, on the basis of the following :

a) Existing wards (electoral divisions within villages).

b) On the basis of equal area of land.(Needs further explanation)

c) On the basis of population.

d) On the basis of the extent of pollution in the river.

e) On sector specific basis.

  1. Identifying the catchments of the river.
  2. Preparing an ecological map of the river (floral and faunal details).
  3. Locating the sources of pollution.
  4. Generating data on the qualitative analysis of the river water.
  5. Generating data on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the waste to be separated from the river waters.
    1. Researching into the traditional wisdom used in tackling similar problems.
    2. Looking into relevant case studies and success stories.
    3. Identifying the stakeholders and and potential beneficiaries of the improvement scheme and linking them to the ongoing schemes.
      1. Identifying employment opportunities while achieving the environmental goals.
    4. Seeking opportunities of rural women empowerment.
    5. Introducing informal methods of environment education to create awareness at the community level.

Time Schedule of activities to be clearly explained through Activity (To be finalized in consultation with BET)

(Only propose a time bound programme for the first phase that is prerequisite for the actual implementation of the programme)

E. Key project Risks

1. Funding difficulties. The concern of the executing agency may not be sufficiently conveyed through the project proposal. Ideally there should be on the spot assessment of the concept by a joint visit of the funding and the executing agency. Any delay in release of funding could result in loss of valuable data.

2. Possibility of initial resistance from the community, ideally implementation should follow sensitization. Every conceivable forum should be utilized to reach out to the people. Some proactive public education is not only desirable but necessary.

3. Bureaucratic bottlenecks.

The concerned government offices be given a note of intent and purpose to ease the process.

4. Justification for the project (Why do you want to do this project):

The project proposal rises above pure academic interest and has immense applied value. It is sought to offer a viable model of sustainable use of a multi-utility natural resource through judicious and ecologically benign use with built in equity. Further it is sought to educate the stakeholders on responsible behaviour in relation to the resource use.

It is envisioned that the project shall address a wide range of issues concerning the long term stability of the river Sal. Most importantly the improvement of the river is based on a participatory approach, where the concerned ecosystem as a whole shall be a community resource; the responsibility for whose conservation lies with the people who depend on it.

5. Project Strategy to achieve the project purpose:

1. Creating a sense of belongingness among all stakeholders through EE and awareness programmes at school and community levels. This can be facilitated through public hearings and orientation.

2. Identifying bureaucratic bottlenecks and suggesting remedial protocols for effective coordination and implementation.

3. Establishing a network of all stakeholders and assigning specific roles to them.

4. Trying to minimize damage while maximizing the utility of the resource without a compromise on quality and equity.

5. Striking a balance between techno-fix and EE to achieve the set goals.

6. To ensure that end-users get palpable benefits from the implementation of this project.

6. Project Beneficiaries:

The Benaulim Environment Trust (for execution purpose). The population in the catchments area of the River Sal are the ultimate long term beneficiaries. But of course the state of Goa shall benefit too.

Role of Communities in the project (both in taking decisions, fund contributions(actual/kind), Ownership, Planning, execution and implementation – not to exceed 150 words.)

The role of the communities would be evident after the first phase of data collection & collation. But of course the validity of the data would also depend upon the participation of the communities in generating the baseline information.

In fact the project is community-centric where the stakeholders irrespective of the specific sector that they identify with, shall eventually contribute to evolve the most appropriate utility plan and ensure the long term survival of this riverine ecosystem.

The execution of the project shall be people centered and the BET shall only catalyse the process. The microplan of the task assignment shall be revealed later. As has been clearly envisioned the goal of this project is to improve quality of this river through a responsible use and inculcating in the user, a sense of stewardship. Also, it is envisioned to create livelihood options in the very cleanup process as well as in the follow-up

7. Global Environment Impact of the project (Explain how this project helps in conservation of environment in 150 words.)

That the Indian riverine ecology is reeling under the pressures of indiscriminate industrialization and intensive urbanization need not be overemphasized. The case of river Sal is no different, except that the catchments in this case have peculiar socio-economic and geographical character that offers hitherto unexploited economic opportunities that could be gelled with its clean-up programme. The successful implementation of this project could offer a viable model of participatory remedial protocol. Importantly the riverine biodiversity will be documented and evaluated for its conservation status.

8. Replicability of the project.

Setting precedence for sustainable development of communities living along river banks and the ones depending on such multi-stakeholder natural resources for their livelihood.

9. Sustainability of the project activities (Mechanisms)

The project is intended to be self supporting in the long run through the participation of the stakeholders. Also, exploring the employment opportunities in the whole process of improvement would ensure incentive linked participation hence it is expected that response shall be overwhelming. Also it is proposed to link this project with the various social welfare schemes of the local and central governments. As has bee envisioned earlier this project is expected to balance the techno-fix with education, this combined approach along with incentive linked participation of the community shall add sustainability to it.

10. Scientific and Technical Content

The Biodiversity Research Cell of the Carmel College for Women, Nuvem shall offer consultancy in a project mode through execution of a preliminary yet fairly comprehensive field study involving all the probable sectors influencing the River Sal. That such a study shall be commissioned by the BET would provide the baseline data for the actual core programme. The

Scientific and Technical inputs required for the pilot project, the budget statement and mechanisms for the same have been spelt elsewhere.

11. Project Impact Indicators (to monitor and evaluate progress in activities):

The monitoring and evaluation of the technical phase shall be done by the funding agency and the BET or their duly appointed experts. The BRC shall submit bimonthly reports to the BET on the objectives fulfilled.

Networks/ Links with Government / Line departments / scientific institutions/ academic institutions, etc.

The BRC has entrusted upon itself at least in the first phase of field work all the liaisoning and linking work and responsibilities and shall keep the BET apprised of such developments.

12. What impacts it will create in terms of Policy/ Advocacy/ Sustainability/ and Replicability in long term.

Though it is premature at this stage to speculate on that, nevertheless it may be a reasonable expectation that this programme will contribute towards advocacy of self help groups in remedying environmental issues at the same time offering opportunities for economic growth. If successful this model can be emulated in other sectors.

13. Media Coverage (Needs to be encouraged and covered during the life of the project)

The BRC has an excellent media interface it has willfully cultivated over the years the same shall be used effectively to create awareness as also to publicize the positive spin-offs arising out of this exercise.

14. Does the proposal require any specific permission? Which are these? Have they been obtained from necessary Central/State/District level governments / Departments / Forest/Institutions. (If yes, please attach relevant documents)

     If foreign funding agency is involved the BET shall arrange to get clearance from the concerned statutory agencies. The funds released to the BRC shall be accounted for by the agency in a regular procedure and the statement of accounts shall be submitted to the BET after the completion of the consultancy. The BRC does not accept any liabilities procedural defaults arising out of the procurement and transfer of funds.

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