Environment action groups in Goa have started a letter writing campaign against the Mahadayi river water project, while the government of Goa has opposed the Union government’s approval to the revised Detailed Project Report (DPR).
This comes days after the Centre accepted the DPR for implementation of the decades-old Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project in the inter-State Mahadayi river basin. The Central Water Commission (CWC) approved the DPR, subject to other mandatory approvals.
The main argument of the environmentalists is that the project would damage the environment irreversibly. “The river is the lifeline of the Western Ghats. If water is diverted away from the river, it will not only affect the forests and wildlife, but also the fish that live in the river. The reduced inflow in the river affects the drainage of the river into the sea. That affects the fragile ecosystem of the estuary. That will directly affect Goa’s economy, as most of the poor depend on the fisheries industry for survival,’‘ Vithal Shelke, an activist, argued.
Activists including Amrit Dias, Prakash Singh and Savio D’Souza are planning to write letters to the President of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop this project. Mr. D’Souza said that NGO members are doing door-to-door visits to tell the residents of Goa of the dangers of the project and plan to hold meetings.
Mr. Dias said that the Union government’s approval was conditional and the letter from New Delhi should not be taken as a green signal to Karnataka government to start work on the project.
Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant called an all-party meeting of leaders to discuss the issue and lead a delegation to the Centre asking them to withdraw the approval on Wednesday.
The Belagavi Kannada organisations condemned this move. Ashok Chandaragi, president of the action committee of Kannada organisations, said, “We have high hopes on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. After all, he led a 250-km padayatra for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala scheme in 2004.”
In 2004, the Mahadayi command areas’ farmers forum organised protest rallies in most of the downstream villages. “After nearly two decades, the Centre has approved our revised DPR. We should not let go of this chance,” he said.