Kannada organisations have opposed the Goa government’s stand on the Mahadayi river basin project and the resolution adopted by the Legislative Assembly of that State against the project.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant held a meeting of all-party legislators on the issue. They decided to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday to ask him to stop Karnataka from going ahead with the Kalasa and Bandori Nala projects.
They also agreed to submit to the Union government a memorandum asking it to withdraw the Central Water Commission’s approval given to the detailed project report submitted by Karnataka.
This was part of the resolution passed in the Assembly on January 20. The other points in the resolution are the demand for constitution of a Mahadayi river water authority with recommendatory and regulatory authority and to form a 12-member committee headed by Water Resources Minister Subhash Shirodkar to come up with a strategy on how the State should handle the issue.
The House has had heated debates on a demand by some members who said that all projects on the entire river basin should be barred, as Mahadayi is the lifeline of Goa and any damage to its environment can damage the whole State. The members also demanded a deadline from the Chief Minister to fulfil such demands, which he, however, refused to set or stick to.
Mr. Sawant, however, said that Goa will maintain its opposition to the projects in toto. “We strongly object to any out-of-basin diversion of water on the Mahadayi, even if it has been allotted under the tribunal award. This is our main argument in Goa’s Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court against the award,’‘ he said.
He also informed the House that the Chief Wildlife Warden of Goa has sent a notice to Karnataka Irrigation Department to stop works in the river basin as the river passes through a wild life sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sawant held a meeting with members of Mahadayi Bachao Andolan and told them that he will take their concerns to the Union government. Andolan members complained to Mr. Sawant that the Central Water Commission has gone only into the feasibility of Karnataka’s project report and the sharing of waters and not environmental sustainability of the projects on the river basin.
Belagavi-based action committee of Kannada associations have written to the Union government against these developments. The government of Goa is engaged in doublespeak. While it opposes Karnataka’s projects on the Mahadayi river, it has no hesitation in planning projects on the same basin. This needs to be condemned, said Ashok Chandaragi, convenor of the action committee. “We have also given a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai that the State should give a fitting reply to Goa,” he said.