Mon, 19 Aug, 2019

Government frowns and Panaji drowns

Instead of increasing surface area to absorb water, we have catalyzed degradation of Panaji by cutting hills, reclaiming water bodies & occupying River Mandovi and its banks

14th August 2019, 02:37 Hrs

DR. JOE D’SOUZA 

We will dismiss, with the pinch of salt, when I recall the story of; “A thirsty crow”. We were told that the crow could not drink the water from the jar, because there was water deep down beyond the reach of the crow, and, thus to quench his thirst the crow very intelligently, threw stones, till the water levels reached high so that the crow could drink and quench it’s thirst. 

Let us now apply the science and morals attached to this fable, which gave birth to the Archimedes principle and the laws of floatation in a very simple 

manner.   

Now, we also are aware that the whole of Goa is reeling with soil erosion, flooding, destruction and all we do is blame Mother Nature and claim compensation under the Disaster Relief Funds of the government. 

Time and tide waits for no man, we all are aware, yet in real life we tend to challenge them both with disastrous results and consequences. 

Let us now draw some lessons from the fable of the thirsty crow. The River Mandovi was born to discharge the waters from the hinterlands, catchment hills, plateaus and over flowing aquifers into lakes, ponds and the sea. During high tide, the water from the sea ingresses into the river upstream, with saline waters going further down past the Cumbarjua canal. This gave birth to estuaries, canals and mangroves.

However, during low tide, water from the ponds, estuarine regions, creeks goes into the sea. Our ancestors build bandhs (sluice gates) to overcome nature’s tidal forces and cultivate on the “khazan or saline paddy fields” and develop pisciculture too. However, it was done in an intelligent manner and the sluice gates were properly maintained and the forces of tides weren’t challenged, but the tidal waters were diverted to holding ponds, creeks and transforming streams in to stablising water holds. Though science has progressed since, Goans have regressed to degenerative levels. We are defying nature and reaping disastrous consequences.

Look at our “development models”. All along the river bank, the Captain of Ports has allowed constructions of buildings to mushroom. The water holding stablising lakes like the Mala Lake, St. Inez creek and the Rua de Ourem waters of Mandovi are challenged by TCP and CoP by allowing constructions. The entire Patto Plaza and the garbage site near Heera Petrol Pump are reclaimed mangrove site and a water body.

Right from concretization of the fragile Altinho slope, to the reclamation of low lying area of Miramar, the choking of our drainage system discharging waters, from the hill slopes, and concretised Panjim city is conspicuous.

The entire Panjim planning has been at cross purposes with nature’s calling. Low lying areas are reclaimed, drainage system choked and siltation aggravated.

When you concretise a water body, where will the water go? Panjim itself has been reclaimed from the sea. Now, Mother Nature is fighting to get it back. Not only has CoP allowed the concretization and destruction of the river banks but it is also concretising the Panjim jetty by pilings and filling up the river bed near the jetty with 15 cubic meters of cement for each piling, for the ramps and the terminal building to be constructed on the bed of River Mandovi. Since the pilings for the ramps go 40 meters deep into River Mandovi bed and over 250 of such pilings would be laid in an area just 100 meters long and 60 meters wide, into the Mandovi River bed. Tens of thousands of cement – concrete would be poured into the Mandovi basin, thus destroying marine gene pool and degrading the porosity and the water holding capacity of the estuarine sediments. 

Just as stones were put by the thirsty crow to raise the water levels, the Captain of ports is pouring cement and placing a terminal building over River Mandovi. We must all understand that there are over six huge casinos, with the mass of over several lakh of tonnes, half submerged into River Mandovi. 

Where will the water go during high tides, if not into the low lying regions of Panjim?

During high tides and with incessant monsoon rainfall, there is no other place for the water to flow and find its own level but to enter the low lying venerable and fragile regions of the Panjim, St Cruz, Merces and Caranzalem. 

Instead of the scientific ways of allowing water from terrestrial areas of the city to go into rivers; we have allowed the CoP to force River Mandovi to flow into Panjim and its suburbs of Ribandar, Santa Cruz, Merces, thus making flooding and drowning of Urban Goa as an endemic “Man Made Disaster”. By cutting the Altinho hill slope and constructing houses on the hill slopes we have made Panjim prone to landslides and siltation.

Instead of increasing the surface carpet area of the city to absorb water, we have catalyzed catastrophic degradation of Panjim. We have cut hill slopes, reclaimed water bodies and low lying areas, choked drains, placed garbage and construction and commercial ventures all along River bank, placed huge vessels in the river, in large numbers and volumes.

We defy nature and expect everything would go as per our own selfish corrupt plans. Instead of going fishing in the sea, we would soon see fish swimming on our city roads. Our TCP and CoP have worked against the forces of nature and we

 remain silent.

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