MIRAMAR: Nearly 10,000 Goans formed a seven-km long human chain today to pray for the well-being of River Mhadei and to celebrate its existence.
Though political leaders across party lines are called upon to participate, the initiative is not to criticise but to recommend ideas and suggestions to the government to protect River Mhadei diversion.
This human prayer chain extended from the end of Miramar Beach to the Santa Monica jetty in Panaji, a distance of seven kms.
The ‘Earthivist Collective’, in association with the ‘Goa Heritage Action Group’ (GHAG) and the ‘Save Mhadei Save Goa Front’ have come together for this chain.
Jack Ajit Sukhija, grandson of Dr Jack de Sequeira, was also present on the occasion.
“Dr Jack de Sequeira, who is known as the father of opinion polls, saved Goa from merging into Maharashtra and protected our identity. Today his grandson is with us to stop the diversion of the Mhadei river into Karnataka. We all need to support this cause and unite,” Sakhardande said.
According to front members, the event will offer people from all over Goa an opportunity to come together and connect with the river, its history and its soul.
Jack Ajit Sukhija also appealed to people to join the movement and save Mhadei from getting diverted. “Mhadei is our mother. We need to know the importance of this river and unite to protect it,” he said.
“After coming together, we can get many positive ideas to go ahead with this movement. Government may get convinced with mass movement. Hence I appeal to everyone to participate in this movement,” he said.
The Mhadei water diversion was first planned in 1970 by engineer S.G. Balekundri. The plan was to feed Malaprabha river and store the water in Navilatirtha dam in Dharwad district.
Built in the 1970s, this dam has not been filled to its capacity except three-four times, but with increasing water scarcity, Karnataka revved its demand for diversion of Mhadei water to take care of the acute water shortage of Hubballi and Dharwad cities and about 180 villages near the dam.
The dispute reached a flashpoint when in 2002, Karnataka approached the Union Ministry of Water Resources for permission to build two barrages on Mhadei’s tributaries, Kalasa and Banduri, with the intention to divert 7.56 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) from its contribution to the Mhadei basin to Malaprabha dam.
Goa filed a petition to scuttle this move with the argument that the rain-fed Mhadei river fulfils nearly 43 percent of the state’s drinking water needs and any diversion will affect the availability of potable water and negatively impact the state’s