At the Mhadai Bachao Andolan mega meet in Panaji: Speaker after speaker spoke out about the Goa government’s complicity in diverting Mhadei river waters to Karnataka for alleged drinking purposes…convenor Arvind Bhatikar, former RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, Aam Aadmi Party’s convenor Elvis Gomes, spokesperson Pradeep Padgaonkar and many others have come together to chalk out a program to stop Karnataka from ruining Goa’s geographical eco-system by diverting the Mhadei headwaters rising in Karnataka’s Western Ghats but flowing primarily through Goa as river Mandovi. (inset) The devastating Kalasa-Banduri project is already in the Supreme Court awaiting a fair judgement

IT was a moment of anguish and despair at the mega Mhadei Bachao melava organised by various organisations at the Gomantak Maratha Samaj Hall in Panaji on November 18, 2019. A big fight is brewing to stop Big Brother Karnataka from messing up the Mhadei river valley whose headwaters may originate in the forests of Karnataka but it turns into the Mandovi once it enters Goa and is the main water lifeline all the way from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. The 111 km long Mandovi drains an area of about 1,580sq km out of 3701 sq km and that’s a huge chunk of Goa. River Mandovi provides maximum fresh water and if much of the water is grabbed in its upper forested sources, Goa will suffer in more ways than one can imagine.
Yet nobody sees Goa beyond the fact that it is a much-loved naturally beautifully endowed place to holiday, wine, dine, enjoy beaches and relax or have the time of one’s life! Goa thrives on beach tourism. Maharashtrians and Kannadiggas flock here for love of Goa! Yet mean mausi Maharashtra and dada Karnataka are fighting to grab as much of the river waters as they can at Goa’s expense just because the river doesn’t rise in Goa’s portion of the Western Ghats!
I should think this is bad in both moral and legal and international law. Clearly our politicians are not educated enough on the subject of rivers and how they connect up with forested highlands, tributaries, the lives of tribal and agricultural communities who live their sustainable lifestyles dependent on the waters of the river all the way down to the lowlands. Or they are over-educated but don’t care! How idiotic it is to think that just because a river rises in your state’s forested hills — a legally protected wildlife sanctuary actually — you can manipulate ground realities with the help of mega engineering technology to blast open the earth and change its topography, so that a river’s natural course changes and proceeds to flow unnaturally on a different route to quench in this case Karnataka’s urban thirst in towns and cities.
All at the expense of drying up and destroying Goa’s entire riverine ecosystem on which lakhs of Goans depend for their livelihood! Actually, right from the beginning a lot of niz Goenkars have been drumming up anxiety of what would happen to Goa if the Mhadei is diverted to quench arrogant and imperial Karnataka’s thirst real or unreal — the issue has been politicized and Karnataka is hell bent on diverting as much water from the Mhadei-Mandovi river basins without understanding how it will take a toll on Goa’s agriculture, livelihood and in cultural contexts.
This idea of changing a course of a river because it is convenient to do is a dumb thing to do and without any rationale. Somebody should tell Karnataka the era of building dams is over in the rest of the enlightened world they are dismantling dams. Quite simply because people at all political and civil levels realize that rivers are the arteries of the earth and keep the coastlines long, long away intact, that is stop the mighty seas and oceans from taking over finite land….this is my analogy, imagine what happens if you dam an artery in your body — well, “river heart attacks” also take place and eventually the river dies and misery spread all around.
In other countries they’re dismantling mega dams and restoring dried up river valleys to create forests and woo rivers to return to live! We in this disadvantageously shaped and located sub-continent are busy killing our rivers one by one. It’s an ominous thought. Governments both at State and Central level need to study Goa’s eco-system from the Western Ghats to the plateau lands, low lands, watery khazan lands which took centuries to build up and how ingenuously people fitted in with their natural bounty to earn their livelihood.
Post-Liberation unplanned industrial growth and the abandoning of agriculture has resulted in mass concrete urbanisation with our rivers becoming dumping grounds for our kachrapati and pollution — turning our rivers into gutter waters so that even the innocent creatures of the wilderness suffer. We turn to bottled water to quench our thirst! Goa’s one and only Rajendra P Kerkar along with Nirmala Sawant sounded the bell long ago about Karnataka’s diabolical intentions which are against all international and moral laws. To tamper with rivers with our monstrous technologies is to reap doomsdays sooner or later.
As Kerkar at the Mhadei Bachao melava quipped, we may end up having to drink our own urine in the absence of potable water. Because once Karnataka diverts much of the natural flow of the river Mhadei upstream, all the way downstream the Mandovi will grow more and more saline. It may become a larger version of the St Inez Creek in Panaji, on a grander scale! Goa can become a state of stale, dying, garbage choked gutters! One large urban sprawl of a slum state! And everyone may die of cancer because there are lots of hospitals treating cancer-stricken patients!
It won’t happen, it cannot happen? Think again Pramod Sawant. Do you want to be the chief minister of Goa or the running dog of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi. Anyway the people of Goa are all set to turn a lot of apple carts — and a whole lot of organisations have united, led by the fiery former RSS chief Subhash Velingkar and determined Aam Aadmi Party chief Elvis Gomes. In the coming days the heat is going to be turned on to show this time-pass government of Pramod Sawant that it cannot take Goa and Goans for granted. I am with the people of Goa. It is now or never to stop the long-term plans Karnataka has to steal Mhadei and kill the Mandovi rivers to fulfil today’s greed for water arbitrarily and through arm-twisting methods.
I must say it was a most rousing and inspirational get together of people at the Mhadei Bachao melava. As the feisty Subhash Velingkar, whom I am becoming more and more fond of, says, “We are not purchasable politicians here! We are all Goans who love our motherland!” Pramod Sawant and his gang of defecting politicians don’t love but hate their motherland and that’s why they’re busy genuflecting, bowing and scraping before Modi’s government at the Centre! What can one expect from a government of defectors and businessmen! Never mind the casinos shoving their sewage in the river Mandovi, let us save the river Mandovi first…otherwise there will be no Mandovi left for even the casinos to stay afloat in.
On that note it is avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

— Mme Butterfly

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