Gargi Parsai

New Delhi: The Centre has decided not to set up a tribunal to adjudicate the Mahadayi water dispute among Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

“I have consulted the Union Cabinet. We are not constituting a tribunal and we will convey that to the court,” Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz told journalists here on Friday.

In 2002, the Ministry granted in-principle clearance to Karnataka for diversion of 7.56 tmc from the basin to meet the drinking water needs of Hubli/Dharwad which lie outside the basin. This was objected to by Goa which demanded equitable distribution of the river water or setting up of tribunal. Then the Ministry kept the in-principle clearance in abeyance and made efforts for a negotiated settlement, including a meeting of Chief Ministers of the States concerned.

As the matter could not be settled, the Ministry approached the Union Cabinet which deferred the matter. Hence the tribunal was not constituted. Meanwhile, Goa filed a suit in the Supreme Court. In its hearing last year, the court asked the Centre to file its response. The Ministry informed the court that it had initiated the process for seeking the approval of the Union Cabinet to set up a tribunal.

Karnataka had conveyed to the Ministry that as the matter was sub judice it might not be proper to constitute a tribunal.