Crowds converged in the capital city on Saturday afternoon to be part of the human chain along the Mandovi (Mhadei) river banks in a bid to raise awareness and express solidarity with the river's vital ecosystem in the face of the ongoing water sharing imbroglio with neighbouring Karnataka.
The human chain was the crux of a day-long 'Mhadei Amchi Mai' festival aimed at community engagement, organised by the Earthivist Collective in collaboration with the Goa Heritage Action Group (GHAG) and the Save Mhadei Save Goa Front.
The organisers claimed "thousands" participating in the human chain stretched along the banks of the Mandovi (Mhadei) river from the Santa Monica jetty in the city to the Miramar beach, covering about seven kilometers.
"The one -of-a-kind human chain spread over 7 kms, offered people from all over Goa an opportunity to come together and connect with the river, its history and its soul," GHAG founding member Heta Pandit said.
Residents from across Goa, activists and representatives of several civil society organisations and also political parties participated mostly in blue-and-white attire as suggested by the organisers.
Dr Oscar Rebello, Fr Bolmax Pereira, singer Hema Sardesai, social activist Patricia Pinto, theatre personality Dr Isabel Santa Rita Vaz, activist Claude Alvares, advocate Norma Alvares, poet and essayist Pragya Bhagat, poet Salil Chaturvedi and teacher Pournima Kerkar were some prominent citizens who joined the event.
Opposition Leader, Yuri Alemao, Quepem MLA Altone D'Costa, Goa Forward Party chief and MLA, Vijai Sardesai, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) State convenor Amit Palekar, were some of the prominent politicians who also joined.
Activities through the day as part of the festival included performances by musicians, dancers, creative storytellers and artists along the riverbank stretching from the Santa Monica jetty to Caranzalem.
Interdisciplinary artist Miriam Koshy who curated the event expressed happiness over the turnout.
"We are happy to see thousands and several citizens’ groups from all talukas reconnected with Mhadei river," Koshy said.
The festival received support from various community groups, including Act for Goa, UrbanSketchers Goa, Plantwalk Goa, Tree Walk Goa, Goa Bird Conservation Network, the NHOI Project/Bookworm and That Book Store.
Environmental architect Elsa Fernandes, who is also the president of Khazan Society of Goa, mobilised the participation of the farming community.