We need to rally behind this pan-Goa movement to protect and nurture our waterways 

May 11, 2015

Occasionally someone gets up and shouts. Armando Gonsalves with his Goa ForGiving group took up the cause of the St Inez Creek. He called it the Campal Creek and those who know everything proclaimed that he was doing it because it ran behind his heritage house at Campal and he wanted it cleaned up. Why not, if it is going to benefit the city as a whole and the state too.

Armando held all sorts of events, inviting decision makers to them, so they opened their eyes and actually looked at the degradation of a once beautiful waterbody. His continuous efforts with jazz concerts, Konkani concerts, boatrides, kayaking, anything to show the tourism potential of a beautiful waterway. It worked. The clean up and beautification of the Campal creek or St Inez nullah was included in the Master Plan for Panjim city and a goodly amount of dedicated funds set aside for the same.

Now Armando has turned his attention to the other waterways of Goa. It’s a smart move. Our waterways give us Goa’s famed beauty, our sweetwater fish, our mangroves that shelter the same. Protecting our waterways would include scientifically conducted desilting, it would also impact on the kind of structures built along our long and picturesque coastline. We need sustainable growth in terms of infrastructure, tourism, housing and industry. We cannot turn back the clock. But we can make use of the time and responsibility we have to protect his beautiful place and teach out children to do the same. Instead we are selling off whatever we can, as fast as we can, to the highest bidder.

As new nightmares crop up in different parts of this fragile state of Goa, one realises that we have abandoned individual responsibility for collective blame. We have given not just the keys to the treasury to individuals who have no capacity for wisdom and farsight, but we are sitting back and watching them make decisions that are dangerous for Goa.

We cannot blame the politicians. These are carpetbaggers who are out to milk their plum position for all it is worth. They have not come into the fray to protect and nurture Goa or Goans. Oh yes, in their way, they care for Goa, but they have come into the fray to protect and nurture themselves, their families and retainers. They don’t create constituencies – they create fiefdoms which are passed down from father to son, from husband to wife.

We have to blame ourselves. Why? Because we select them knowing what the reality is. Even when we trust that they will do what’s best for the State, we see within a few months that nothing has changed and that nothing is going to change. Even then we refuse to wake from our torpor and say we are like that only, we will throw them out at the next election.

Some of us have realized that no matter who comes to rule the fiefdom, there is a many-headed emperor pulling their strings, allowing them to build their castles and that emperor does not change. It is a corporate and underworld combine ruler. It is the corporate that decides, okay, we’ll need a marina in the Zuari, because it is close to our business interests. It is underworld that decides, okay, if you are going to demolish these slums you have to give us proper concrete housing elsewhere in the State, not too far away from the urban areas. And you wil not stop new slums from growing here.

And the fieflords and fiefladies waggle their heads and say, yessir, right away sir.

The wonder of it? Knowing all this, we allow it to continue. If we did not, we would have everyone who is not a crooked politician or crooked bureaucrat or crooked government worker, getting together in public spaces and raising our voices out loud, stopping projects in our vicinity that will destroy livelihoods and environment, putting pressure on bad decision makers to stop. Just stop. But we don’t do that. And we do not know why.

This is just wrong.

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