Government in reverse mode
It seems that the Goa Government is in reverse mode. The Government seems to be having second thoughts about their decision on ‘de-classifying the coconut tree to grass’. In a recently held meeting of the coalition partners, Vijay Sardessai of GFP told reporters that the government proposes to rescind their decision on the classification of the coconut palm as grass. Sardessai, now TCP and Agriculture Minister said that not only will Coconut be declared a’Tree’ but also be given the status of State Tree of Goa. Earlier he had led a ‘maad yatra’ ‘coconut march’ prior to elections and promised voters that if voted to power, he would ensure that the coconut palm would be given ‘tree’ status once again. This was to be included in the Common Minimum Programme of the ruling coalition, he said.
It was a sad day for Goans the world over
In January 2017, the Goa Government under the Goa Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Bill, 2016 de-classified the coconut tree to grass. This sent shock waves to all Goans around the world.
What Coconut means to Goans
Goan village life is woven around the coconut palm. It is a vital part of Goan lives. Almost all of it is used for various purposes. The wood from the bark is used in making rafters for roofs, its fruit is used in many Goan dishes viz. curries, deserts and for extracting oil, the coconut toddy is used to make the state drink-‘Feni’ and the leaves are woven and used for thatching roofs, as mats, brooms and firewood. Besides it multiple uses, it is aesthetically beautiful.
Due to the de-classification of coconut ‘tree’ to ‘grass’, massive felling of coconut palms became possible. Permission from the Department of Forests was not required. Anybody was allowed to chop down a coconut tree at will.
Why did the Government make such a rash decision?
The answer seems to be one – large scale tree felling for land development.
Goa without Coconut?
Most of the Goan cuisine is coconut based. Be it curry, feni or ‘kuswar’ (famous goan Christmas sweets).
By law, for every tree that is cut, a sapling has to be planted in its place. But, not anymore. Now that the Coconut plant had been de-classified to ‘grass’ that would not be required. The result – coconut plams slowly disappearing.
Imagine a picture of Goa with bare shores? No photograph of Goa is complete without swaying coconut palms in the background.
Is the Goa Government only trying to woo voters before the by-poll?
Well, the question seems more likely the answer.
The process to re-classify the coconut palm as a tree is going to be an up-hill task for the Government.
Firstly, a Bill will have to be tabled and passed in parliament to de-classify the coconut palm from ‘grass’ back to ‘tree’. Then, a second Bill will have to be tabled and passed to declare it a Tree. After that, if the Coconut Tree has to be declared the State Tree, the original State Tree will have to be de-classified. Currently, Goa’s State Tree is the ‘Mati’ a rare medicinal plant. Then and only then can a new Bill be passed declaring the ‘Coconut Tree’ as the State Tree.
Will this decision see the light of day? Write in your views to Itsgoa.com