“Politics cannot give you water, but the Mhadei is our source of water since times immemorial. We cannot allow Karnataka to divert our water, and I am sure a status quo ante will be maintained within three months,” disclosed Rajesh Patnekar, former speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly and executive committee member of the Goa Cricket Association (GCA).
“I love cricket and try to attend most Ranji Trophy matches. As I am watching our boys play – Goa is playing Pondicherry in their final home Ranji Trophy match – thoughts of the River Mhadei occasionally cross my mind because I know that if the diversion is allowed, Bicholim, Sattari and other places will be searching for water in another few years. We cannot allow it to happen,” believes Rajesh, as he breaks the conversation to clap for a four scored by Goa’s K D Eknath.
“The fight to save River Mhadei cannot be political. We have to keep our differences aside to save the Mhadei. If we keep quiet now, the effect on Goa will be heavy after some years,” thinks Rajesh, who believes Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is capable of handling the situation.
“We were quiet and not standing and looking because the matter was in court and a tribunal. We didn’t expect the DPR decision. It took us by surprise too, and we have now responded,” claims Rajesh, who believes politics and sports are two different branches of service.
“I do not think the DPR is tied with the elections due in Karnataka. Mhadei is a question of lives, not only of the people, but the ecosystem of Goa. I don’t read any politics into this and am therefore not surprised by the public reaction,” avers Rajesh, while citing water disputes between other states of India that have been settled by courts in the past.
“I am enjoying watching our boys play today on a good batting pitch. Without Mhadei, we will have no water to maintain this pitch. The Mhadei situation is grim, and all of us in the party are aware of it and as alarmed as any Goan. We know the government is acting, and we have to be attentive,” suggests Rajesh, as he keeps clapping when a ball is sent across the boundary.
“Everyone needs drinking water, but just because you need water to drink, it does not entitle you to divert a hundred per cent of the water. There has to be a plan on the amount of water to be diverted and how. Water had been diverted in other states and can be done here too, but in a studied manner,” espouses Rajesh, who became speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly when former speaker Pramod Sawant was elevated as chief minister.
“If a player is playing continuously for Goa, it is because his performance is good. Otherwise, he would have been out. Cricket in Goa is improving day by day and the results will be seen in the years to come. There has to be continuity in progress for change to be noticed,” opined Rajesh, as talk meanders between the River Mhadei and Goan cricket.
“The boys are performing better, and improvement can be seen in their performance. We cannot expect stars overnight but players from Goa have been noticed in the IPL, and the tournament has been a step that our players have been waiting for,” argues Rajesh.
“The work that has started on the diversion of the River Mhadei has caught the attention of every Goan for now, and I think everyone’s focus now will be on the Mhadei. It is expected as all of us in the party were taken by surprise. But we are not worried as we believe our chief minister will find a solution,” says Rajesh as the Pondicherry bowlers mount pressure on Goa.