Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where are the springs in the summer?

It must be my good fortune to have been born in Goa in the late part of the last century . I say this because Goa is witnessing a rapid change in its demography, its people and its fast diminishing cultural traditions. There are numerous things about Goa that I experienced as a child that I now find being hurtled to pages of history thanks to the unorganized urbanization of Goa which due to the benevolence of our state legislators is being given topmost priority over Goa’s degradation. All in the name of development.

One of the things I sorely miss in Goa are the springs in summertime. Indeed where are the goan springs in the summer?. In my childhood, come summer and my family was ready to visit the various beaches and the fresh water springs all over Goa to freshen us up and give that much needed soothing effect of the summer. These springs have now become a rare species for Goans. Most of them have either dried up, merely trickling or mysteriously converted into private properties.

Springs are a natures pure gift to mankind and we the people of Goa, had been given this gift in large measure. Springs have been a source of medicinal value to goans for centuries and have known to cure people of problems with vision, skin ailments, etc which coGoan springnventional medicines had failed to cure. Springs abounded in Goa and there were once over a thousand springs all over Goa. Now I wonder if there are even a hundred.

Even if they exist, the water gushing from them is a pittance and the ambience around the spring is one cluttered with all kinds of garbage littered by people from all over the country and the world, who visit these few remaining places in Goa as if they are visiting their native village taps.The plastic waste , tetrapacks , broken bottles and even defecation in these areas seem to be the parting gifts of our domestic tourists who bring their native civic sense into our once clean surroundings with careless impunity.

Springs actually originate from seepages of water in strong gushes oozing from ground surfaces or water bearing rocks from the hills. They are prevalent wherever the water table and the ground level is on par.The rainwater seeps through the hills and rocks bearing aquifers. Whatever passes through limestone is non potable and that passing through sandstone is potable.

Large scale development and unabated mining activites including landlords diverting the waters to their farm lands, resort and hotels etc have ruined the cause by destroying its source and have deprived the villages and the farmer community from their water needs. Revolts by locals against the mining lobby against such large scale degradation of the Goan environment has been met with stiff opposition and most people are sought to be silenced with monetary offers.

Such a lack of respect for nature could finally end up in the drying of all our springs and all these tourism related places would then be relegated to garbage dumpyards. It is sad that some springs and the surrounding areas around them have been entrusted to private hoteliers in the name of tourism and employment. The villagers of these areas should fight at their gram sabha meetings to revert them back to the use of the common man.

The whole problem it seems is commercialization of our natural resources at all levels without any consideration of the effects it can have on the environment and the natural landscape of goa which may soon result in the drying up of all springs in Goa.

We need to save our Goan springs on a war footing. Much time has been lost and we need to identify the culprits at all levels who contribute to the degradation and also ensure a balanced environmentally sustainable approach is made to save whatever is left of the Goan spring.

Xittuk Goencar

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