Less than 24 hours after Sankhali Municipal Council revoked permission granted to host a meeting to save Mhadei river, the Save Goa Save Mhadei Front settled on a 10,000 square metres area at Virdi, near Amona bridge, within the jurisdiction of Sankhali Municipal Council.
“This is a movement of the people and no government can stop its people. We decided to have the meeting in Sankhali because Mhadei river makes its entry from Sattari to Sankhali and thereon and it is the constituency of the Chief Minister. We expected him to attend the meeting,” Mahesh Mahambre, member of the Save Mhadei Save Goa Front told Gomantak Times digital.
The Sankhali Municipal Council, it may be noted here, revoked the permission granted to host the meeting on Sankhali municipal ground on January 16, 2023, from 4 pm onwards. The meeting coincided with Opinion Day and was to dwell on Karnataka’s attempt to divert water from Mhadei river.
“The meeting is not against any political party. We invited all political parties to attend and four parties -- Congress, AAP, Goa Forward and TMC -- have confirmed their participation. Since the CM has publicly stated that he would see to it that the DPR will be cancelled, we expect him to come as he is the MLA of Sankhali,” stated Mahesh.
The permission was granted on January 9 and revoked on January 12 on the pretext that the weekly Sankhali market would be disturbed much to the amusement of locals from Sankhali.
“The market is weekly and I am sure everyone in Sankhali knows how the market functions. Using our market as an excuse only goes to prove that the government wants to silence the voice of the people,” stated Sanjay, a shopkeeper from Sankhali.
The Save Mhadei Save Goa Front left the Goa Government in jitters on November 1, 2019, when the three bridges across Mandovi river were blocked by thousands of protesters. “It was on this day that the save Mhadei river message reached every nook and corner of Goa. The wildlife that Mhadei river sustains roared alarmingly,” said Steven Coutinho, who despite losing both legs, intends to attend the meeting in Virdi.
“The organisers of Save Mhadei Save Goa Front know that their call is the call of every other Goan. Mhadei is our lifeline. And it is a shame that our own government is giving it second-class status. There is a saying that you cannot fool all the people all the time but in this case, the government seems keen to show that it is made of fools,” stated Oscar Chagas Silva, spokesperson of Comunidade Awareness Fellowship that is one of the many NGOs supporting the event.
“We are a group leaving from Seraulim for the meeting. We are happy to know that a new place has been found in Sankhali itself. If not, we were ready to organise a place in South Goa. We just cannot keep getting fooled by this government,” said Darren Caldeira.
“We are expecting thousands of people. Honestly, we do not even want to think in terms of how many will be coming but instead, are thinking in terms of accommodating all those who come,” stated Hrudaynath Shirodkar, another vocal member of the Front.
“I wouldn’t want to see Goa turning into a desert. What is happening is pathetic,” stated Dinar Barros, secretary of Goa Coconut Farmers' Association.
“All NGOs in Goa have extended support to the meet. People have been organising themselves in groups to make it for the event since it was announced. We are bidding our time now,” stated Ramesh Kundaikar.