Contesting Water Urbanism(s) in Goa, India

Maya Costa-Pinto

The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Waterways and water ecologies are integral to Panaji (also known as Panjim), a city situated at the intersection of the River Mandovi and the Arabian Sea, in Goa, India. In recent years, Panaji has experienced extensive flooding, causing creeks to overflow and submerge houses and roads in various parts of the city. Diverse constituencies in the city have embarked on a number of urban regeneration initiatives in an attempt to achieve ecological equilibrium. In 2019 for example, concerned residents filed complaints with the Goa Human Rights Commission alleging that flooded roads posed a risk to the local population. This paper examines the contestations and coalitions that emerge as bureaucrats, urban planners and residents from riverine and creek-based communities in the city initiate and implement urban renewal projects that seek to rehabilitate the urban waterways. In particular, it explores the rights framework that ecologically vulnerable communities in Panaji utilize to comprehend and manage their predicament. By extension, this paper also provides an insight into the role of human rights in water sensitive urban planning in South Asia.


Maya Costa-Pinto has research interests in urban ecologies, mobilities, transnational networks, legal and maritime anthropology. She has a law degree from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Davis.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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