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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Centre to form panel to look into Mahadayi dispute

india Updated: Nov 19, 2019 23:56 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Hindustantimes
         

PANAJI: Following protests by Goa, the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEF&CC) has assured the state that it will set up a committee to look into issues raised by the government of Goa concerning the diversion of the Mahadayi river.

In a letter addressed to Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant, Union minister of environment Prakash Javadekar promised that “a committee is being constituted to look into the issues raised in detail.”

The Goa government had, through an all-party delegation which met Javadekar on November 4, protested against a letter by the MoEF which granted Karnataka the green signal to construct a river diversion project and demanded that the letter be withdrawn.

The environment ministry, in a letter to the Karnataka government on October 17, noted that the scheme “doesn’t envisage creating new command area or providing water to suffering existing command areas for irrigation. Also the project doesn’t involve hydroelectric power generation [and] is purely a drinking water supply scheme and [hence] does not attract the provisions of the EIA {environmental impact assessment} notification 2006 and its subsequent amendments.”

Goa contested the decision, stating that Karnataka had misled the environment ministry by claiming that the Khalsa-Banduri Dam was a solely a drinking water project.

“Factually, the water from Kalasa-Banduri project is proposed to be diverted into Malaprabha project. The Malaprabha Project is undisputedly an irrigation project. Consequently, Environmental Clearance for the said project is mandatory under the EIA Notification, 2006,” Goa’s representation said.

Sawant expressed his happiness at the latest letter.

“I am happy that MoEF & CC has taken due cognizance of the representation submitted by the all- party delegation and as stated in the letter has constituted a committee to examine the issue. I am confident that the committee will soon deliberate and safeguard Goa’s interest with a favourable decision,” Sawant said.

Opposition parties are less enthused.

“Goans have demanded withdrawal of that approval. Where is that withdrawal? This letter is a laughing stock aimed at fooling Goans,” Yatish Naik, a Congress leader, said.

Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party called the letter an eyewash and pointed out that it was his effort in filing a case before the National Green Tribunal that brought relief for the state.

“The letter is an eyewash. Our petition has been disposed {of} by the National Green Tribunal with directions that Karnataka must take EC {environmental clearance} for irrigation or hydroelectric project as pointed out by us, “ Sardesai said.

The opposition also alleged that the letter was issued solely to help the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chances in upcoming by-polls in Karnataka.

The by-polls to the 15 seats hold the key to the survival of the BS Yeddiyurappa government. The BJP in Karnataka has inducted former members of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular ) who quit their parties. The diversion of the waters of the Mahadayi river is a key electoral plank for the party in Karnataka.

The Mahadayi River, referred to as the Mhadei or Mandovi in Goa, has its sources in the Western Ghats in northern Karnataka along the border with Goa, briefly flowing into Maharashtra before flowing into Goa. Goa is locked in a 15-year dispute with Karnataka and Maharashtra, opposing Karnataka’s demand to divert the river to the east flowing Malaprabha river.