24 Nov 2022  |   05:49am IST

St Inez Creek yearns to breathe afresh

Earlier this month, a verbal spat between Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas and PWD Minister Nilesh Cabral trended across social media platforms as the local MLA was clearly upset due to raw sewage water being discharged into River Sal, resulting in contaminating the river which is considered as the lifeline of Salcete.

Days later, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant visited the constituency and inspected River Sal and witnessed for himself the sorry state of the river. Consequently, measures have been suggested and soon some of those may well be implemented. 

However, for decades now the 3.7 kilometre long St Inez Creek which opens into River Mandovi and is considered as the lifeline of the capital city, Panjim, is in dire state. Election after election, whether the Assembly or the municipal election to the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), St Inez Creek does not miss a mention. Nevertheless, once the winner assumes power, the issue is put back into a bag and left to collect dust until the next election season.

While crores of rupees have been spent in trying many stunts to clean the creek, but the Yamuna of Panjim city if anything has only been adding waste and stink all along the path that it flows. To the extent, the mouth of the creek which opens into the Mandovi river has ensured that the filth from the water body flows down into the river and a walk on the promenade will be sufficient enough to be enlightened on the ecological damage.

From aeration points at different locations to occasional cleaning of the floating garbage to now emptying the creek at specific stretches and constructing concrete walls, environmentalists, architects and concerned citizens point at the irreparable damage that is being caused due to the lack of planned scientific approach to clean and beautify the 17th century creek.

The government departments and agencies, including Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB), PWD and CCP amongst others, are the custodians of the heritage St Inez Creek which lies in a shambles today. 

The GSPCB would be commended if they would take suo motu cognizance of the many open letters written and complaints that are filed against the contamination due to raw sewage being let into the creek at various points all along the creek. The housing spaces, temporary structures as well as pukka houses are letting their sewage water flow directly into the creek. 

The PWD should crack down on those guilty of connecting their sewage lines to the creek and contaminating the water. Strict action must be taken against those within the department who have turned a blind eye to the illegalities and let the irregularities continue. 

On the other hand, the CCP and the Taleigao panchayat should begin deploying staff to clean the creek on a daily basis of the waste that is dumped - flowers, bottles, thrash of every kind. It’s a mighty job at hand but only consistency and planning on the part of the local bodies will ensure that the lifeline begins to breath.

The creek needs to be monitored by technology and those guilty of polluting the water body need to be punished and should have to pay hefty fines. CCTVs and warning signboards shouldn’t be merely a showpiece but a functional apparatus so that people can be charged for the offences. 

Lastly, it is the citizens who are responsible for the mighty mess that has been created out of a creek that could have been showcased as a picturesque trail to go angling, bird watching or just as a sit-out amidst the trees that could adorn its beauty. 

Citizens must realise that no solution is possible without people’s participation and all those who let their sewage flow into the creek, those who dump their thrash and those who think that the creek is the resting place for their house waste, should be the first to give up and shun their nasty habits.

The St Inez Creek longs for a decisive politician who can take on the challenge and the task at hand, as the lifeline of the capital city yearns to breathe afresh and rejuvenate. 


Iddhar Udhar