Representational image. Photograph:( Others )
The locals claim that for the first time in decades they have seen the waterfall going dry
A perennial waterfall in Goa, revered by locals and visitors for its religious significance and natural beauty, has dried up, with the villagers blaming it on the reckless mining activity.
The locals claim that for the first time in decades they have seen the waterfall, located in Harvalem village near the Pandava caves in North Goa district, about 50 km from here, going dry even as the summer is yet to set in.
A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands nearby, and the place is considered religiously significant as people from far and wide bring the ashes of their deceased near and dear ones for immersing in the water.
"The mines which are located upstream this waterfall have gone so deep that they have actually disturbed the water table," claims Sangesh Kundaikar, vice president of the Rudreshwar temple at Harvalem.
"The waterfall has a history spanning nearly 500 years. The people claim the waterfall has never gone dry to such an extent," Kundaikar said.
The mine owners are responsible for this situation, he alleged.
"The rivulets which feed the waterfall have thinned down. For the first time we have seen that the waterfall has dried completely in March itself," he said.
A dozen mining leases located upstream the waterfall in Sonshi village, located about 5 km from Harvalem, used to divert the water for mining purposes and later pump it back into the rivulet.
But, the stoppage of mining activity last month, following a Supreme Court order, has forced the mine owners to abandon their leases.
The state government earlier issued a circular asking the mine owners to continue pumping water from the pits owing to safety issues (so that it does not cause flooding in nearby villages). But, some mine owners have refused to dewater the pits.
"A majority of the mines have stopped dewatering due to which there is no water flow in the rivulet, leaving it dry," said Haresh Melwani, a mine owner and member of the Goa Mining Association.
"Some of the mines upstream this waterfall have gone below the water table due to which there is an imbalance," he claimed.
State Mines and Geology department director Prasanna Acharya was not available for comments on the issue.
However, a senior officer from the department said the North Goa district collector has called a meeting of all mine owners in the next few days to discuss the matter.