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Mhadei row: Goa Congress protests in Delhi against MoEF

Panaji

15-December-2019

Accusing the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre of "politically victimising" Goa over its neighbour Karnataka, vis a vis the issue of diversion of Mhadei river water and the Southern state's controversial Kalasa-Banduri dam project, the Goa Congress leaders staged a dharna in the national capital and demanded a rollback on the clearance given by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to the dam project.

Top Goa Congress leaders who participated in the dharna namely state Congress president Girish Chodankar, South Goa MP Francisco Sardinha, former Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro and leader Francisco Sardinha, also handed over a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister, to the security personnel at Jantar Mantar, which said that if the Kalasa-Banduri project is implemented it would cause an "ecological disaster" in Goa, which would lead to nearly one third of the state's population into "ecological refugees".

"We would like to draw your kind attention to the shocking fact that the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change, government of India has issued a clearance for the Kalsa-Banduri diversion project, when the dispute is pending before the Supreme Court and the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal without consulting Goa. It was done to win by-elections in Karnataka. The people of Goa will never support any diversion of water from Mhadei which is a lifeline of our state," the memorandum reads.

"The central government under your leadership shows no respect for the sentiments of Goans and has no concern about livelihood of Goenkars considering our small size and may be politically irrelevant to your political thinking," the memorandum also says.

"Any decision favouring Karnataka, we caution you, would cascade into an irreversible ecological disaster in Goa leading to salinisation and progressive desertification and collapse of our fisheries and tourism industries leading to unprecedented crisis in the history of modern India. More than half a million people in 190 villages in Goa may turn into ecological refugees and international community would not tolerate such a situation," it also states, demanding a withdrawal of the MoEF's green nod to the project.

Goa and Karnataka are locked in a decade-long inter-state dispute over the sharing of Mhadei river waters. The already vexed conflict between the two states, became further exacerbated, when two months before crucial Karnataka assembly bypolls, the MoEF gave a green nod to Karnataka's Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Banduri dam project.

The Goa government is opposed to the project which aims to divert water from the Mhadei river basin to the deficit basin of the Malaprabha river, ostensibly for drinking purpose.

The Goa government has insisted that the MoEF's decision was illegal and the diversion would cause ecological devastation in Goa.

The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra. An inter-state water disputes tribunal, set up by the central government, after hearing the over two-decade-old Mhadei river water sharing dispute among Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, in August 2018 allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka and 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra.

Karnataka as well as Goa have filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the Tribunal's order. Goa has also accused Karnataka of already diverting the Mhadei river water, without the formal notification of the Tribunal's award by he central government.IANS