Goa CM Sawant cornered after Amit Shah claims ‘agreement’ on Mhadei dispute - Hindustan Times
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Goa CM Sawant cornered after Amit Shah claims ‘agreement’ on Mhadei dispute

ByGerard de Souza
Jan 30, 2023 05:58 PM IST

Goa has opposed any diversion of waters of the River Mahadayi which originates in the Western Ghats in Karnataka, takes a detour via Maharashtra and enters Goa as the Mandovi. The Mahadayiriver basin drains an area of 2032 sq.km., out of which an area of 375 sq. km. lies in Karnataka, 77 sq. km. in Maharashtra and the rest in Goa

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant maintained a guarded silence on the issue– treading a fine line between defending Goa’s cause and stopping short of condemning the union home minister Amit Shah’s claim of an agreement that Goa has agreed to share its water with Karnataka.

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant (PTI Photo)
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant (PTI Photo)

The home minister in Karnataka on Saturday claimed that Goa has agreed to the Mhadei water-sharing issue.

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“Our legal case is strong. The results will be seen soon. We are certainly working to fight for our cause,” Sawant said on the sidelines of an official function on Monday when asked about Shah’s comments.

Also Read: Goa assembly unanimously resolves to oppose Mhadei diversion

The Mhadei issue continues to simmer after the Central Water Commission accorded its approval to Karnataka’s project proposal to divert the west-flowing tributaries that make up the Mhadei (spelt Mahadayi in Karnataka) to the east-flowing Malaprabha river, reignited over the weekend after Shah claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) deserved credit for ‘solving’ the Mhadei issue.

“I am pleased to tell you that the BJP government has managed to find a solution to the long pending dispute between Goa and Karnataka. By giving Mhadei water to Karnataka, the BJP government has done a great job for the sake of the farmers from several districts of Karnataka,” Shah said at a rally in Belgaum on Saturday evening.

“The chief minister (B S Bommai) has done a commendable job of diverting the Mhadei water to Karnataka by taking the Goa government into confidence for quenching the third of farmers in Karnataka,” Shah also said referring to the centre’s approval for the project – a move that has been countered by the Goa government that has sought an early hearing before the Supreme Court challenging the approvals granted to Karnataka.

While Sawant remained guarded, his water resources minister Subhash Shirodkar said that the Goa government has not ‘agreed’ to any pact with Karnataka for the diversion of water.

“We do not agree or accept the comments of Amit Shah because no such discussions have taken place. Our case is before the court and we have a strong case,” Shirodkar said.

The Congress accused the BJP of “chicaneries betrayal” and of politicising the issue that has now revitalised opposition to CM Sawant.

Also Read: Goa seeks early Supreme Court hearing on river water dispute with Karnataka

“The claim made by Amit Shah is shocking, especially since the matter is resolved along with the Goa government. While the BJP claims that we should not do politics about Mhadei and which I agreed, we are seeing that every action by the central BJP and BJP Goa is a sword into the hearts of the Goans,” Congress MLA Carlos Ferreira said.

The Aldona MLA further demanded that CM Sawant come clean on the Mhadei issue and condemn Shah’s statement.

“I wish to ask the Goa chief minister whether he has misled the house and Goans on the altar of politics. He needs to clarify and strongly condemn these statements so that people know the truth and who is lying... whether in Goa or Karnataka,” he said.

Meanwhile, alleging that there has been a ‘behind-closed-doors’ deal between Karnataka and the centre on the issue, Goa Forward party leader Vijai Sardesai said that until today, the chief minister has not replied to this and now after the home minister says that Goa was part of such an agreement, the CM should call him out.

Goa has opposed any diversion of waters of the River Mahadayi which originates in the Western Ghats in Karnataka, takes a detour via Maharashtra and enters Goa as the Mandovi. The Mahadayiriver basin drains an area of 2032 sq.km., out of which an area of 375 sq. km. lies in Karnataka, 77 sq. km. in Maharashtra and the rest in Goa.

The Mahadayi Interstate Water Disputes Tribunal in a verdict in August 2018 granted Karnataka a total of 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water against their demand for 36.558 TMC of water.

The award was challenged in the Supreme Court, while Goa has also challenged the approvals granted to Karnataka.

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