Akhenchi Zhor, Revived!
Iris CF Gomes
Some days ago Ramesh Ghadi and Mario Cordeiro led around 35 young men to clear and revive the spring at Aquem, Mollembhat, Saligao. This is a story of likeminded people coming together and making a positive change. It clearly shows the power of unified action in the pursuit of truth, justice and protecting our ever fragile environment in Goa.
The spring, which is called Akhenchi Zhor, used to be one of the many lifelines of aqua hidden in villages that bring pure water with medicinal properties to the people. However, years of apathy and neglect took its toll; and it has been seven years since the spring ran dry, ending with it a thriving ecosystem of flora and fauna.
Ramesh Ghadi, a well-known poet, heritage lover, fitness consultant and managing director of Ghadi Fitness, says, ‘In the last few years a lot of illegal constructions came up in this hilly orchard area. Even access to the spring was blocked. People stopped visiting the spring for the last decade. A month ago I visited the place with a few of my friends and was shocked to see the destruction. I organised a heritage walk with our Save Saligao group to see the damage done to our Aquem Hill and with short notice a crowd of more than 400 people joined us.’
Ramesh Ghadi and Mario Cordeiro headed about 35 youth from the Save Saligao group who, armed with pickaxes and shovels, dug, de-silted, and removed rocks to clear the underwater path to rejuvenate the spring. It took hours of backbreaking toil to fill up one and a half trucks worth of stones and soil.
Already wildlife has been observed at the spring, which heralds the resurgence of a vibrant environment. Ramesh says, ‘We will visit this place regularly. Friends from the same ward are keeping close vigil. We want to make it a popular place among villagers once again. The water of Salmona, another popular spring from Saligao, is contaminated. It is a miracle for our villagers that the rebirth of the Aquem spring has taken place. We are planning to organise annual maintenance with help of locals … maybe assistance from WRD (Department of Water Resources) too.’
*Photographs courtesy of Ramesh Ghadi and Rupesh Govekar.