Special Correspondent

State delegation meets Union Minister P.K. Bansal

Karnataka for restoring the ‘in principle’ approval granted to drinking water project

7.56 tmcft of Mahadayi waters planned to be diverted to meet the needs of Hubli-Dharwad

NEW DELHI: Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has promised to convene a meeting of Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Goa, probably in the first week of February in Delhi, to resolve the dispute between them on sharing the Malaprabha waters.

He would also write to the Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal, for which the Union Cabinet has already given its nod, to exempt from its purview projects for diversion of 7.56 tmcft of water from the river under the Kalasa Banduri nala project, as planned by Karnataka, as it related to supply of drinking water to the twin cities of Hubli- Dharwad.

Mr. Bansal gave this assurance to Karnataka Water Resources Minister Basvaraj Bommai and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar when they called on him seeking to restore the “in principle” approval granted to the drinking water project.

Mr. Bommai told presspersons here on Wednesday that the State Government wanted all clearances for the project to be speeded up as Hubli-Dharwad was facing acute scarcity of drinking water, with the supply being once in 10 days.

Besides, Mr. Bansal was asked to revoke the letter of September 19, 2002 wherein the in-principle clearance given for the project had been kept in abeyance.

Though an all-party delegation from Karnataka, led by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, wanted to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the issue, the Prime Minister’s Office said it was not able to accede to the request and instead asked the Karnataka delegation to meet Mr. Bansal. Mr. Yeddyurappa also wrote letters to Dr. Singh and Mr. Bansal, which were handed over to the latter by Mr. Bommai.

The memorandum said that at present the channel under the Kalasa Banduri project for diverting 3.56 tmcft of water was being built.

Karnataka had proposed to take up Kalasa-Banduri project for diverting another 4 tmcft of water.

In view of the acute scarcity of drinking water, the diversion of 7.56 tmcft of water was necessary. The construction of the projects was taken up in non-forest areas, as the Centre had not accorded forest and environmental clearance.

Mr. Bommai told Mr. Bansal that the Kalasa-Banduri project would in no way affect the interests of Goa or cause environmental damage. Further, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, had prepared the Environment Impact Assessment report for the project.

It indicated that there was no adverse impact on the environment and ecology of the basin and it had been endorsed by the National Institute of Oceanography.

The drinking water project, utilising only 7.56 tmcft of water out of the about 200 tmcft available, would neither cause any submersion of areas in Goa nor affect any downstream projects in that State.

It could be treated outside the purview of the tribunal, the memorandum said.