03 Mar 2024  |   05:41am IST


With the beginning of March, the summer has officially set in on Goa and consequently, the demand to quench the thirst will increase by every passing day.

The Indian Meteorological Department has already begun issuing warnings of higher temperatures, atleast two degrees above the normal. In such circumstances, it is natural that the demand for water and consumption spikes.

However, Goa's tryst with water scarcity is more than two decades old. Before the turn of the century, Goa was still far from being developed and piped water to households across the State was still in the 'pipeline'. The majority of the population were depending on wells for all their water needs. During the last two decades, Goa turned into a tourism paradise and then began a demand for a home away from home in the State. Over the last two decades, people from across the country and the globe have been investing in real estate, housing and the tourism industry, constructing villas and multi-dwelling mega projects. While it should have been a matter of pride, the unplanned and haphazard development has proved to be a bane more than a blessing.

Through a recent special investigative, ground reporting, O Heraldo brought to light the plight of the villagers of Chicolna-Bogmalo and the residents of Headland Sada, who have been living in hope and dying in despair, waiting for round-the-clock tap water supply. Shortage of tap water in the Majorda-Utorda-Calata areas has forced hundreds of villagers to buy potable drinking water for daily use. Villagers said that the tap water pressure is so low that some households hardly get five litres of water dripping from the taps through the morning for five hours. Taking suo motu cognisance of the report, the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) directed the Public Works Department (PWD) Principal Chief Engineer to appear before it in person or through a duly-authorised person on March 11, and submit a report.

Over the decades, subsequent governments and PWD ministers have promised 24x7 water supply to all Goans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship programme of 'Har Ghar Nal, Har Ghar Jal' gave a new life to these hopes. However, neither of these has worked for the Goans and both governments have failed in quenching the thirst of Goans.

In a frank admission and conceding to the truth, the former PWD Minister Nilesh Cabral in April 2022 stated that it is not possible to give 2x/7 water supply to the people of Goa. He went a step further and said that he would request Chief Minister Pramod Sawant not to give any new water supply connections until the issues of water supply are resolved. Again, neither granting new connections can be stopped nor has any solution been achieved.

It is a fact that haphazard development has destroyed the water table in the villages. Excessive pumping of water through borewells to maintain the water supply to mega housing projects has had a lasting impact on the available water for the villages. Thus, the government needs to step up its efforts and create executionable solutions in collaboration with the people. However, the government alone will not be able to solve the crisis that has arrived at the doorstep.

The State is supplied water from five dams, but we do not have localised reservoirs or storage facilities large enough to store water for a month's consumption. Hence, while there is a greater need to construct reservoirs to harvest rainwater, the public should be educated on rejuvenating the wells and storage of water in mini-overhead water tanks within housing complexes. For long the government has taken the task for granted and has had a one-way communication to resolve the water crisis of the State.

Charles Dickens once famously said, “Never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”


Iddhar Udhar