Goa welcomes govt decision to put on hold Mahadayi diversion
The opposition Congress in Goa insisted that the move proves that the permission for diverting the waters was granted ahead of by-polls in Karnataka this month to influence voters in the ruling BJP’s favour.Updated: Dec 19, 2019 00:03 IST
The Centre on Wednesday held in abeyance the go-ahead given to Karnataka for the diversion of interstate Mahadayi river waters for the Khalsa-Banduri Dam, which had provoked angry reactions in the lower riparian state of Goa.
The opposition Congress in Goa insisted that the move proves that the permission for diverting the waters was granted ahead of by-polls in Karnataka this month to influence voters in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s favour. The BJP swept the by-polls and maintained its majority in Karnataka assembly by winning 12 of the 15 seats .
In a fresh communique issued on Wednesday, the Centre said that “based on facts made available subsequently to this [environment, forest and climate change] ministry... the letter issued [for the diversion] by this ministry is hereby kept in abeyance.”
“It is observed that applications for clarification of the award for the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal (MWDT) dated 14-08-2018 filed by the governments of Goa and Karnataka are still pending. The award has also been challenged by the states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra before the Supreme Court,” the communique said.
Goa has been involved in a 15-year dispute with Karnataka and Maharashtra over the sharing of the river waters. It has been opposing Karnataka’s demand to divert the river waters to the east.
Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa have challenged the tribunal’s award of their respective share of waters last year before the Supreme Court. The Centre is yet to notify the award.
The Centre said it will set up a committee to look into the issues Goa has raised regarding the diversion of the Mahadayi river waters in response to Goa’s objections.
In its letter to the Karnataka government on October 17, the Centre noted that the go-ahead for the diversion was granted as it involved only a purely drinking water supply scheme and not irrigation or hydroelectric power generation.
Goa contested the decision, stating Karnataka had misled the government by claiming that the Khalsa-Banduri Dam involves a solely a drinking water project.The massive project envisages the 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 ₹840.52 crore.
Goa chief minister, Pramod Sawant, who met Union environment minister, Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday,, welcomed the move to hold the permission in abeyance “till all connected legal disputes are resolved”.
Former chief minister and Congress leader, Digambar Kamat, calledon Wednesday the permission given to divert the waters illegal and said the letter issued in this regard should be withdrawn. In a tweet, he added that the BJP used the letter for political gains in Karnataka.
Congress president Girish Chodankar called back in November the permission granted to Karnataka a clear conspiracy of the BJP in connivance with local leaders to woo voters. “It is certain now that Goa is sold by the BJP to win these by-elections.”
The Mahadayi originates from the Western Ghats in northern Karnataka along the state’s border with Goa. It briefly flows into Maharashtra before flowing into Goa.
“The letter is a victory for Goa...,” BJP minister Nilesh Cabral said.