PANJIM: As further indication of the environmental devastation caused by unregulated illegal mining in the State, at least 178 wells have been sucked dry in Bicholim, Shirgao and Pissurlem over the last few years, even as these areas have been receiving adequate rainfall, say experts and environmentalists.

Villagers paid heavy costs as they had to abandon 22 wells in Bicholim, 76 in Shirgao and 80 in Pissurlem which were their traditional sources of water, as the water table beneath just slipped as illegal mines pumped thousands of litres of water out of mining pits, wasting the precious resource.