Panaji, Feb 20 (IANS) The main opposition party in the Goa legislative assembly, the Congress, on Saturday promised to table a private member’s bill in the forthcoming budget session to restore state tree status to the coconut palm.
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Congress spokesperson Pandurang Madkaikar said that the Congress would raise the controversial issue of the declassification of the coconut palm as a tree in the budget session.
“This government is attempting to destroy the coconut palm, which is almost synonymous with Goa by denying it the tree status… Therefore we are bringing in the Goa Protection of Coconut Trees Bill to forever safeguard the coconut palm,” Madkaikar said.
“Through the bill we want the coconut palm to be Goa’s state tree. This is also our demand with this government,” Madkaikar said.
The opposition as well as civil society has repeatedly accused the BJP-led coalition government in Goa of amending the Goa Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act 1984 in January and dropping the tree status accorded to the coconut tree in order to unfairly hasten real estate and industrial development at the cost of the environment.
The controversial law was also critiqued by the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment and forest which has asked the state government to review the amendment.
Madkaikar also expressed the hope that the bill would inspire legislators across party lines to come to the aid of the coconut palm.
“The coconut tree has so many uses. Every one associates Goa with coconut trees. We hope all MLAs will have the good sense to vote in favour of the bill,” Madkaikar said.