The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to spell out whether there was any proposal to set up a tribunal to adjudicate the river water dispute between Goa and Karnataka on construction of a project across the Mandovi river.
A Bench comprising Justices Mukundakam Sharma and Anil R. Dave granted six weeks for the Centre to indicate its stand. Meanwhile, the Bench, after hearing senior counsel Fali Nariman for Karnataka, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan for Goa and Additional Solicitor-General Haren Raval asked the parties to complete verification of documents before the Registrar.
Earlier, Mr. Dhavan informed the court that there were reports in the media that the Centre was contemplating setting up a tribunal, but there was no official communication. When Justice Sharma asked Mr. Raval whether he had any information to that effect, he said he would take instructions and inform the court. The Bench adjourned the matter by six weeks.
In its suit, Goa contended that the project contemplated by Karnataka in the inter-State river of Mandovi involved diversion of water outside the basin and it was not permissible. It said any abstraction of water by the upstream State of Karnataka would deprive the inhabitants of Goa of drinking water and consequently affect their rights.
Refuting the contentions, Karnataka said the proposed diversion of water was only 7.56 tmc ft annually out of the total availability of 180 to 220 tmcft, as estimated by the Central Water Commission, and the proposed diversion was mainly for drinking water requirement.
It said the government had no intention of utilising the waters actually without obtaining the clearances under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. It maintained that trans-basin diversion from the surplus Mandovi basin to the deficit Krishna basin for meeting drinking water supplies was permissible.