Thu, 19 Sep, 2019

Killing Mandovi softly with the wrong

History teaches us that if a river dies, decays and degrades, civilisations crumble along with it. As Goans of the 21st century, how are we in Goa treating our rivers?

13th March 2019, 02:46 Hrs

DR JOE D’SOUZA

The River Mandovi sustained civilisations over centuries in Goa. The heritage site at Old Goa, on the banks of river Mandovi was the capital of the colonial Portuguese which was later shifted to Panjim. Thus River Mandovi sustained, nourished and refurbished the capital cities of Goan society for over 500 years both under colonial as well as liberated Goan society.

The health of society and civilization thus depends on the health of rivers and water bodies. 

If we glance through the histories of the world’s major known civilisations, it was always the settlements which mushroomed and economically developed on banks of world’s great rivers. The Egyptians were sustained by River Nile, the quietly flowing Danube bosomed up the finest of European civilization, River Thames, River Seine, Rhine almost all the world’s state capitals, have a river behind it’s past and present glory. 

The purpose of this is not to sing songs of glory to the riverine system the world over, but to emphasize and stress forcefully that if a river dies, decays and degrades, civilisations crumble along with it. 

As Goans of the 21st century, how are we in Goa treating our rivers?

We must understand a healthy river and society dwelling on its bank have an intimate connection with one another. A healthy river enriches biodiversity, and are used by society for swimming, bathing, rituals, harnessing resources, drinking purposes, to sustain agriculture through irrigation networks, develop and maintain animal farms as well as sequester carbon dioxide to help develop a healthy society.

While in India our Prime Minister has in sincerity moved for the Ganga Purification Action Plan, in Goa, Our Chief Minister has allowed Mandovi to be polluted and degraded beyond sustainable limits. 

World history tells us that one Nero destroyed Rome, Hitler ruined Germany and we have one Captain of Ports that is destroying River Mandovi with casinos, cruise boats, fishing vessels, trawlers, yachts, and port visiting vessels. 

A Mumbai-based Captain has a 600 capacity cruise boat under the name Lexicon, blessed by the CoP. 

Very few people know that the son of a Minister representing Pernem too has a cruise boat and a special jetty constructed for him right in the heart of Panjim. 

There is no stringent monitoring of the health of the river waters. As a retired professor, I can assure Panjimites that anaerobiosis is already set in the Mandovi bed and methane as well as sulphides formed by sulphur reducing bacteria is growing alarmingly. 

The cascading effects of pollution results in foul stench emanating from River Mandovi. 

Further, this would not only directly result in the growth of enteric, skin, respiratory ailments but also aggravate a wide variety of cancers, amongst the residents and those visiting the city.

The neglect of Goan rivers has extended beyond Mandovi and thus Sal, Zuari, Chapora and Talpona too are under seize of pollution due to unscientific developmental projects.    

In the 70s, upto 1990, River Mandovi was brimming with aquatic life. It was pleasant, refreshing and exhilarating. 

A healthy Mandovi gave rise to healthy Goans. Let alone the tasty rock dwelling fish, there were crabs, oysters, mussels, clams and prawns. Goa in general, and Panjimites in particular were able to consume, fresh, nutritious bounties from both our estuaries. 

The Goa State Pollution Control Board too is party to these irregularities by allowing sewage tankers to discretely discharge into the St Inez creek, thereby allowing enteric bacteria to be back flushed into the dying Mandovi River. Each day hundreds of tankers release off sewage discreetly at Tonca. 

What is appalling is the frightening announcement made by the CoP – a Rs 28 crore building, right in front of Panjim jetty thus allowing the spacious public space to be taken up as we all maintain a stoic silence at our destruction.

It is extremely relevant that scientific data, vital to nail down the guilty, responsible for the destruction of Goa through scientific publication in science journals, which courts in India would accept be initiated. 

With no credible scientific data, there is no favourable judgment to nail down the negligent CoP and those politicians who earn commissions on mega projects. 

Thus, in Goa, with no research scientists defending Mother Goa we have no scientific publications; but presentations, which courts and tribunals do not consider seriously; thereby allowing Goa to face degradation like that of Vasco by coal and other bad cargo, and Mandovi destruction by allowing the unqualified and destructive CoP to systematically degrade Mandovi river and the ambience of Panjim. 

The greedy bureaucrats and politicians have allowed ushering of disease and pestilence in cities of Goa thus forcing residents and natives of Goa to haplessly migrate to foreign shores. 

This helps generate an inflow into a vote bank population from outside Goa, specialized in providing the resident Goans with fish laced with formalin and foods with harmful preservatives.

Wake up Goans before it is too late!

Related news

Sisodia’s ‘Shiksha’ new hope for education

The book vividly explains in detail his hands-on experience in crafting some of the best and creative interventions in the education system Read more

Primary sector can save our economy

Government should scale up infrastructure, increase collection and trade centres (mandis) so that a farmer gets satisfactory returns for his efforts Read more

Time to relook at the Naga peace process

Peace talks with Nagas pushing for independence, which have been going on for more than two decades, recently entered rocky waters Read more