Goa wants green nod to Mahadayi river diversion withdrawn, Javadekar seeks 10 days
In a memorandum submitted before the Union minister, the delegation accused Karnataka of misrepresenting and misleading the Centre into issuing them a go-ahead for the project.Updated: Nov 05, 2019 01:56 IST
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar has sought 10 days’ time to respond to the Goa government’s concerns after his ministry gave Karnataka a green signal to carry out the construction of the project to divert water from River Mahadayi (Mhadei) to the Malaprabha, subject to certain conditions.
An all-party delegation from Goa led by chief minister Pramod Sawant and Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat urged Javadekar to withdraw a letter issued by his ministry to the Karnataka water authority, which exempts the southern state from seeking environmental clearance for the Rs 800 crore project.
“The Minister was kind enough to assure a written communication on the same within 10 days. Every member expressed his views. After listening to everyone Javdekar ji assured his support to protect the interest of the state and [the] people of Goa,” Sawant tweeted after the meeting.
In a memorandum submitted before the Union minister, the delegation accused Karnataka of misrepresenting and misleading the Centre into issuing them a go-ahead for the project.
“It was highly objectionable and inappropriate for the State of Karnataka to surreptitiously and clandestinely file any application before the MoEF&CC seeking clearance for the project,” the submission reads.
However, the opposition members of the delegation were less impressed by Javadekar’s “feigned” ignorance.
“Citing ignorance Prakash Javadekar seeks ten days time to clarify on his clearance to Kalsa Bhanduri project, We once again reiterate, We will fight till our last breathe to protect our Lifeline Mhadei (sic),” Digambar Kamat, the opposition leader tweeted.
“The minister’s stand that the approval for the diversion of Mhadei water was done by a ‘low-level officer’ clearly appears to be hollow as there is no justification for the tweet by the minister and a thank you by Dharwad MP and Union mines minister Prahlad Joshi,” Vijai Sardesai, the leader of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) who was part of the delegation, said.
Javadekar, had in a tweet last month that was quickly deleted, stated that his ministry was happy to grant approval for the contentious project.
The environment ministry, in a letter to the Karnataka government, 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 does not attract the provisions of the EIA notification 2006 and its subsequent amendments,” the letter stated.
Goa, however, said that Karnataka had misled the central government by stating that the Kalsa-Bhandura Dam is a drinking water project and hence does not find a place in the schedule of EIA Notification-2006.
“Factually, the water from Kalsa-Bhandura 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.
The GFP’s Sardesai alleged that the clearance was given with one eye on the upcoming Karnataka by-elections.
“Goa’s interests were being sacrificed for across the border political considerations. However the petition filed by the Goa Forward Party in the NGT will act as an insurance against any further mischief by ‘low-level MoEF officials’ against Goa’s interests in the future,” Sardesai said.
The GFP has also filed a petition in the National Green Tribunal against the MoEF’s decision.
The massive project envisages the diversion of west-flowing streams in the Mahadayi basin to the allegedly water deficit Malaprabha basin by the construction of dams across the Haltara, Kalasa and Banduri streams.
The project proposes to divert 7.56 TMC of water during monsoon season through interconnecting gravity canals for crossing the ridges at the cost of Rs 840.52 crore.
The Goa government has fought a 15-year long battle with Karnataka over the Mahadayi, that originates in the Western Ghats in north Karnataka along the border with Karnataka that flows into Goa as the Mandovi.
In its verdict passed last year, the tribunal awarded Karnataka 3.45 TMC 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.