Eight Days Without Water: Who was Responsible?

By Ashwin Tombat
03 September 2019 11:33 IST

For around eight days, Goa’s state capital Panaji went without water, along with the rest of Tiswadi and Ponda talukas. Both the pipelines supplying water to these areas snapped in a landslide. This included the main pipeline as well as the back-up pipeline. If one failed, the other could keep up a limited supply till repairs took place. In this case, both pipelines broke.

The government assured the people that water supply would be restored in three days. It wasn’t.

Every day, the government gave a fresh deadline for restoring water supply. Every day, it failed to keep its word. Prices of water from tankers multiplied manifold. People had to spend a major part of the day looking for the precious commodity. Mosques requested worshippers offering Namaz to do their cleansing rituals at home. Schools declared a holiday. Relatives of patients at the Goa Medical College had to carry water from home to the hospital…

What was the cause of this mayhem?

If Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is to be believed, it was an Act of God; a natural calamity. The CM also briefly pointed a finger at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which oversees the widening of National Highway 4A.

But authorities don’t widen roads. It is contractors that do this job. Finally, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Deepak Pauskar identified the real culprit – road contractor M Venkata Rao Infra Projects – which failed to realign the pipelines to a safer area, away from the sensitive stretch where road work was on.  

“Under the work order, the contractor was supposed to shift the pipes in 2016, before starting the road widening,” Mr Pauskar told the media. It is a standard practice that all utility services – like power cables and water pipelines – must be moved before any major work starts.

Mr Pauskar said the PWD had sent several requests to the contractor asking him to shift the pipelines before carrying out the road work. He added that the contractor had been warned that the retaining wall at Curti-Ponda was old and would not be able to sustain the weight of the mud being dumped there. But the contractor ignored all these instructions and went on with the road work.

M Venkata Rao Infra Projects is the same contractor that built the Dona Paula jetty, which became unsafe and prone to collapse within six years of completion. It is the same contractor that built the Kala Academy jetty that had to be demolished within five years of completion.

It is the same contractor that built the disgraceful Miramar-Dona Paula concrete road. It is the same contractor that built the Gaundalim Bridge, which had to be closed twice for extended periods because of levelling problems.

It is the same contractor that walked out of the new Hospicio building contract, and delayed the project for years. It is the same contractor that abandoned the construction of the flyover at Chimbel on the new Panaji-Old Goa highway. Now, no other contractor is willing to complete the flyover because they suspect that the foundation piles have not been properly sunk.

It is the same contractor that built the new highway/bypass road at Maxem in Canacona taluka, a 100-metre stretch of whose retaining wall collapsed recently. It is the same contractor that is building the new four-lane highway north of Panaji; the bridge over the Moira Underpass at Mapusa – completed just a few months ago – already has potholes.

Finally, it is the same contractor that was responsible for the break in the water pipeline at the Santa Cruz junction last Thursday, depriving GMC, Bambolim, Curca, Siridao, Cacra and Alto St Cruz of water for a further three days; till Saturday. Here too, M Venkata Rao Infra Projects failed to shift the pipeline before starting work and built the bridge on top of the pipe, putting massive pressure on it and causing the pipe to collapse.

Such contractors – who have a long and sordid history of substandard construction and gross negligence – need to be blacklisted. But, on the contrary, M Venkata Rao Infra Projects is the Goa government’s favourite contractor.

The Chief Minister gave MVR a clean chit in the pipeline collapse. Earlier, he insisted that the retaining wall collapse in Canacona was a “one-off incident”. The CM must understand that contractors like these are chronically and habitually delinquent. They must be brought to book, otherwise taxpayers’ money will continue to be wasted.

Be warned. Panaji’s water pipeline might be repaired for now, but it is not shifted. There are other areas along the new highway 4A – being built by M Venkata Rao Infra Projects – which continue to remain vulnerable. Another landslide could cause another section of the pipeline to snap, and Panaji, as well as Tiswadi and Ponda talukas could easily be without water for another week or more...

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Free Best Health Care, Free Water, Free Electricity, Free Education, Free Wi-Fi, Free Transport For Women, CCTVs Security around whole Delhi, Free Treatment in nearby private hospital who meet with an accident, Old Age Home with all Good Facilities, Free Training Center for unemployed Youth, Electricity Company is paying fine to their Consumers for keeping them without Electricity and many more Good Facilities AAP is giving to the people of Delhi.


- Jack De Goan, Goa | 04 th September 2019 16:15


A Tight Slap on those who think that Congress & BJP are two different parties! If still Congress supporters don’t opened their eyes then they will be responsible for the Destruction of Goa and Honest Goans Curses will be on them!

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 03 rd September 2019 19:20


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