Goa to file contempt plea against Karnataka in Mahadayi water dispute
The Goa government will file a fresh contempt plea against Karnataka for diverting waters of the River Mahadayi even as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday.
Sawant, who said that the issue of Mahadayi was “close to his heart”, accused previous regimes - both BJP and Congress - of having neglected the issue but assured that there was ample photographic and video evidence, which he said would be placed before the top court.
“A contempt petition is being filed before the Supreme Court either tomorrow or the day after along with all photographic evidence, pursuant to reports of diversion being carried out by the State of Karnataka. This contempt is in addition to an earlier contempt filed in the Apex court in the Month of August 2018, when the state of Karnataka had engaged in a similar mischief,” Sawant told reporters at a special press conference.
Photographs published in local media showed that Karnataka has already dug trenches to divert the flow of the River Mahadayi, which begins as a stream in the upper reaches of the western Ghats in North Karnataka before flowing into Goa via a brief detour into Maharashtra. On account of the trenches, the waters of the Mahadayi now flow eastwards and into the east flowing Malaprabha river in Karnataka rather than westwards into Goa from the point of diversion.
The Sawant government has been on the backfoot over its inability to prevent Karnataka from diverting the water, and the “support” the central government is giving the Karnataka government to go ahead with the project.
However, Sawant said it was the fault of earlier regimes that matters have come to this.
“The Karnataka government built trenches and canals to divert the water but nothing was done to stop it back then. The Congress government of the time, from the beginning, failed to object to in-basin utilisation of waters of Mahadayi by the riparian states,” Sawant said.
He also blamed the government, led by his predecessor Manohar Parrikar, for claiming as a victory the decision of the tribunal to allow Karnataka only 13.42 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) water. Karnataka had claimed 36.55 TMC water from the Mahadayi basin.
The diversion project involves the construction of three dams, two canals to divert water and the diversion of 499.13 hectares of forest land including submergence of 406.60 hectares of forest land. The plan involves diversion of west flowing streams in the Mahadayi basin to the allegedly water deficit Malaprabha basin by construction of dams across the Haltara, Kalasa and Banduri streams. The project proposes to divert 7.56 TMC of water during monsoon season through Inter connecting gravity canals for crossing the ridges at the cost of Rs 840.52 crore.
In its verdict passed in 2018, the tribunal awarded Karnataka 3.45 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) from their total claims of 7.56 TMC. According to the breakup, Karnataka has been allowed to divert 1.18 TMC from the Kalasa Nala and 2.27 TMC from the Banduri Nala from their claims of 3.56 and 4 TMC respectively. The award is yet to be notified by the central government and all states -- Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa -- have challenged various portions of the award before the Supreme Court.
“There was no decision taken to challenge this award at the relevant time for 10 months. When I took charge as the chief minister, and appointed new Advocate General, it was realised that the diversion of water from Mahadayi basin to outside basin is required to be challenged as the same is against the interest of the State,” Sawant said, indirectly blaming the government led by his predecessor Manohar Parrikar for the lapse.