For Goans, the river Mhadei, or Mandovi, is not just a water body — but it is an identity, the source of its being and much more. It is the main source of our water that nurtures us and is indeed an integral part of Goa.
Such thoughts and emotions were shared at the recently concluded ‘World Heritage Day’ event at Fundação Oriente, Panjim, organized by the Goa Heritage Action Group.
The day was dedicated to the Mhadei river, where the love for the river was expressed through art, poems, spoken words and also a presentation by engineer, Sandeep Nadkarni. He elaborated on the ground reality related to the status of damming of the Mhadei river for the Kalasa-Bhaduri project in Karnataka.
The event consisted of a poetry reading by Salil Chaturvedi entitled ‘Mhadei’ a spoken word performance by Rochelle D’Silva along with Ben Ferrao entitled ‘Flowing like a River’, and a Kaavi art demonstration by artist Sagar Naik Mule, where he painted the Mhadei river and how it was connected to Goa’s culture, people, etc.
A JOURNEY, A GUARDIAN SPIRIT
The evening also saw an exhibition ‘मãi : Mhadei’che Rakhondar’, by artist Miriam Koshy. She says, “This series is an offering to the River Mhadei, following its flow, not only into and through Goa, but through each one of us. We are, after all, 70 percent water, so we are Mhadei as it is within us.”
Her exhibition involved seven art installations of rakhandars at the premises of Fundação Oriente. It speaks of the journey of the river from its origin to its flow through waterfalls, forests, mangroves, khazan lands and then to estuaries which is embodied in the seven rakhandars (guardian spirits) that are interconnected in a delicate balance that we, as Mhadei’s children, need to safeguard from disruption.
She adds, “I hope to travel with the rakhandars on a pilgrimage – tracing Mhadei’s journey as she transitions from Mahadayi to Mhadei to Mandovi – performing along the way a consecration ceremony at each of the ecosystems they embody, for the protection and health of this living being that is the life-blood of our land.”
FACTS & FIGURES
As we are aware, the recent news of diverting Mhadei’s water from Goa by Karnataka state has sparked rage among Goans. Elaborating on this whole issue was the talk by former Water Resource Department (WRD) chief engineer, Sandeep Nadkarni.
In his talk, he gave details about the history of this water dispute between Goa and Karnataka.
He shared some interesting facts about the Mhadei river. It is 111 km long, that originates in Jamboti Ghat in Khanapur taluka of Belgaum district, in Karnataka. The Mhadei river covers almost 42.7 per cent of Goa compared to just 0.01 per cent of Karnataka. It also supports 8.17 lakh people of Goa, which is almost 56 per cent of Goa’s population, according to the 2011 census.
He also spoke about the challenges related to the recent development regarding diversion of the Mhadei river to Karnataka. He said that since the Goa state plans to challenge the Detailed Planned Report (DPR) of Karnataka in court, there is a need for experts including hydrologists in the committee.
He also pointed out that the lawyers should have very good knowledge about the topic. He suggested the need for political unity in Goa as seen in Karnataka, when it comes to the Mhadei issue; and also citizens have to come together to fight for Mhadei.
Nadkarni also mentioned that as Goa is home to six wildlife sanctuaries, it is a plus point for us. These are contiguous forests, and thus, this can help in fighting for Mhadei.
He concluded by adding that Goa needs to be vigilant about its rivers and there is a need to protect and fight for this in the times ahead.
Arti Das is a freelance journalist based in Goa. She loves writing about art, culture and the ecology of Goa.