Panaji, June 10 (IANS) Facing a severe drop in reservoir water levels, with the water in two reservoirs in the state down to less than 20 days of consumption, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday said that he would write to the Union Mines Ministry seeking permission to convert some of the unused mining pits for rainwater harvesting purposes.
Addressing a press conference here, after taking stock of reservoir levels with top Water Resources Department officials, Sawant also said that the state government was looking to provide subsidies for rainwater harvesting projects under a new policy.
"Water is not a problem at present. But in the long run, we believe that mining pits should be used for rainwater harvesting, for which we will have to seek some amendments in the Central laws," the Chief Minister said.
He said the Goa government had written to the Union Water Resources Department seeking permission for use of abandoned mining pits in rainwater harvesting, but was told that the clearance must be sought from the Union Mines Ministry.
"We will write to the Mines Ministry soon. Mining pits should not be closed, they can be used for rainwater harvesting. There is a need for big water storage projects," he said.
Under the existing law, mining companies that harvest iron ore are mandated to fill up and cover the exhausted pits, which are essentially mammoth open-air caverns from which the mineral has been extracted.
"At present, water in four abandoned mining pits is being used to recharge reservoirs, where the water levels have fallen. There are four or five other pits, which we can tap. There are so many mining pits. We are now identifying them," said Sawant.
He informed that at present, the state's five major reservoirs -- Selaulim, Anjunem, Amthane, Panchwadi and Chapoli -- contained water for 44, 19, 125, 13 and 40 days respectively.
He said that the state government was working on creating an expansive network of check-dams along rivers to recharge the water table. "We are also coming up with a water harvesting scheme and policy to tap more water. Under the new policy, subsidies will be given to those who want to start rainwater harvesting projects," Sawant said.