The villages of Mollem and Collem situated in the eastern-most corner of Goa are two biodiversity-rich villages which have become the target of 3 projects – a railway, highway, and transmission line – by the Adani group. For these projects, they are tearing down thousands of trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. The projects will also affect the water distribution in the area as well as in the rest of Goa.
Mollem and Collem have many freshwater streams, as well as endemic species, the types of which are probably more in number than the human population in Mollem (which is around 4000). “The forest cover is so dense that sunlight does not even reach the forest floor in many places,” states the Goa Tourism Development Corporation website. One of the hottest biodiversity spots in the world, it starts from Gujarat and extends upto Kanyakumari.
Over the next few months, Mollem’s protected area itself stands to lose over 20,000 trees if the project is given free reins.
“If the forest is tampered with, the flow of the water may eventually reduce, and this will affect our livelihood. Under the guise of the pandemic, we were permitted by the authorities to operate the jeeps to take tourists to the falls only recently. We fear, if we raise our voice, we may be left without an income today, rather than tomorrow,” says a Collem resident.
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