The Rivers of Goa

This report was commissioned for India Rivers Week 2016.  Its a short description and detail report of the same can be seen here Goa Rivers Profile 

About Goa Rivers

Goa is twenty fifth state of the Indian Union occupying an area of about 3,702 sqkm. This small  but picturesque state is sustained by 11 rivers. These rivers have supported the land of Goa since the earliest forms of human habitation. The discovery of numerous rare Stone Age carvings stands testimony to this.

Terekhol, Mandovi, Baga, Zuari, Colval, Saleri, Mandre, Harmal, Sal, Talpona and Galjibag are the eleven rivers of Goa which are known as the lifelines of the state. Due to the extent of their drainage areas and the human attraction they hold, these main eleven rivers and their 42 tributaries are significant, not only as the source of potable water but they support also the Goan eco-systems.

Most of the prominent rivers of Goa originate in the thick forests, many of them sanctuaries, of Western Ghats and discharge into the Arabian Sea. Landscape of Goa characterized by small area is dominated by these rivers which are an intricate system of wetlands, tidal marshes and cultivated paddy fields interconnected by canals, inland lakes, bays, lagoons and creeks governed by regular tides. Goa is thus more intimately linked with its rivers and also more livelihood dependence on them.


Brief River Profiles of Goan Rivers

1. Mandovi Mandovi is the major river of Goa. This river earlier was popular by the name Goamati. It is believed that the state of Goa has received the name Gomantak from Gomati as this river had significant place in the life of Goan. As the Mandovi sustains the entire resource- rich Sattari taluka, besides nourishing the ecology of Sanguem, Bicholim, Dharbandora, Tiswadi, Bardez and of Ponda talukas it is known in Karnataka and Sattari as Mhadei meaning the great mother. Indeed, such is the impact influence and importance of Mhadei in the life, culture and economy of Sattari taluka that people consider her indispensable for their existence.

2 Zuari River The Zuari River is the longest river in the state of Goa, and has second largest basin after Mandovi. Zuari is believed to have been known in the earlier times as the Aghanashini, the destroyer of sun. The Zuari’s source water; lie entirely within the state, with the inter-state boundary almost following the water divide. Referred to as a tidal river, Zuari originates in the Dighi Ghat of the Karnataka part of the Sahyadri Hills and after flowing a zigzag stretch of about 145 km joins the Arabian Sea at Mormugao – Dona Paula point. Zuari basin extending from Netravali to Panjim covers an area of about 975 km2 and constitutes about 27 % of the total area of Goa. The basin has forest area of 31.4% and hosts Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary.

Zuari flows in the north-western direction through the talukas of Tiswadi, Ponda, Mormugao, Salcete, Sanguem and Quepem. It has two sub-basins formed by Kushavati and the Gulolil Sanguem rivers both, which have a north-westerly flow.

3 Terekhol River Terekhol is the northernmost river which originates in the Manohargad in the Sahyadris and runs along the border of Goa in a southwesterly direction and then assumes a northwesterly flow before discharging itself into the Arabian Sea. It is about 27.5 kms in the length. Patradevi is the entry point of Terekhol in Goa. Torxe, Khadshi and Pedne are its main tributaries. Except for the historic fort of the Terekhol tract on its right bank, only the left bank portion lies in Goa. Terekhol sustain the traditional livelihood of thousands of people of Pernem. It is also known as the river Aronde.

4 Colval River Colval river which is known as Chapora rises above Ramghat at Tudye in Chandgad in Maharashtra and follows a zigzag course, demarcating the border of Pernem, Barde and Bicholim before debouching into the Arabian sea near the historic fort of Chapora. The Colval river enters Goa at Ibrampur village of Pernem. This river is about 32 kms long. Sal, Kalana Virnoda and Parshe are the tributaries of the Colval.

5 Sal River Sal which is the important river of the South Goa, rises near Verna and flows parallel to the coast meets the sea at Betul. Navelim and Cuncolim are the two significant tributaries of this river. This river has the length of 35 kms.

6 Talpan River Talpan is the important river of Canacona. Originating in the Ambaghat in Canacona, the river runs 31 kms long course. Nadke, Gaondongri Bhatpal and Khalvade are the tributaries of this river.

7 Galjibag River  Galjibag is one of the important rivers in the South Goa. Two rivers of Canacona namely Mashe and Loliye are the main feeders of Galjibag. It originates in the hilly areas of Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka and enters Canacona near Mule and flows Northwest till Poinguinim for about 15 kms in Canacona. It meets the sea near Mashe.

8 Saleri River Saleri  The Saleri, originates in the forested areas bordering Barcem and Gokuldem villages of Quepem. Flowing for the distance of about 12km, the river joins the Arabian Sea near Devakaran. 4km long the Padi originating from jungle of Padi hill joins the Saleri river India River week – Goa 201617 near Pissondi whereas the Agonda joins the Saleri. It has length of 7.5km. The Molore river that starts from Damani with the length of 6km joins the Saleri. Today, increasing agriculture, deforestration and other man-made activities are responsible for threatening very existence of this river.

Mandre River The Mandre, originates from the jungle of Corgao, passes through various hamlets of Mandre, Corgao, finally unite with the sea after covering 8.75km distance. Today, this river is on the way of extinction as very anthropogenic activities are responsible for threatening it’s existence.

10 Harmal River The Harmal river originates in the hilly areas of Corgao and flows westward for the distance of 11km before becoming one with the Arabian Sea at Harmal. The haphazard projects undertaken for tourism purpose have adversely affected the natural course of the river.

11 Baga River  The Baga river is the smallest river of Goa that emerges from the forested areas of Assagao of Bardez. A small stream which comes from the Saligao hill joins the Baga river at Arpora. By flowing for the about 10km, the river joins finally to the Arabian Sea. Since last more than three decades, village of Baga has been witnessing a massive tourism activities. To provide facilities, hotel and restaurants has increased by manifold in Baga and surrounding areas. Garbage disposal and sewerage treatment too, has resulted in polluting the Baga river. Several encroachments have reduced the river to gutter. This river has already on the path of privatization. Some of the private resorts have started boating and cruising facilities for the tourists. These various activities have resulted in seriously destroying the natural drainage of the river.

Dams in GoaFor Goa a very large quantity of fresh water flows from springs and rivulets originating from just across the border in the Western Ghats of either Maharashtra or Karnataka. Every variation in the their water level in these upper reaches is thus crucial for Goa‘s ecology, forests, wildlife, agriculture, drinking water, fishing and transportation. In that sense Goa has been at the mercy of its two larger and powerful neighbouring states viz. Maharashtra and Karnataka. Ambitious plans of these states to create large storages or divert waters close to the sources of rivers flowing into Goa have made the State of Goa vulnerable.

All the eleven main rivers and their 42 tributaries today are facing numerous threats and if urgent appropriate steps are not taken, these water bodies might even extinct. Extensive mining in the state has been silting the rivers though mining rejects, transport of the mineral by barges through rivers oil and grease along with mineral ore causes severe pollution. Ammonium Nitrate used as the explosive for mining, adds nitrates to the river water causing eutrophication. Some of the industries too are responsible for causing water pollution. Discharge of untreated waste water into the streams, is another dominant polluter.

Polluted rivers of Goa

In the times of worsening inter-state water disputes, increased ill effects of mining, growing tourism and associated pollution; rivers of Goa need to be protected on priority. Need of the hour is for the state to have a comprehensive river conservation policy and also to make the best use of the available surface water resources. As the rivers are the main source of the fresh water, the state has to plan a strategy to conserve and protect the unique ecological setting Goa‘s river basins and the sustainable economic activities dependent upon them and their life support systems.

A report by Amruta Pradhan SANDRP,



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