KARNATAKA

Mahadayi stalemate likely to continue for some more time

Special Correspondent

HUBLI: All hopes of an early resolution of the issue of tapping the waters of the Mahadayi, an inter-State river that flows in Karnataka and Goa, have been dashed with the portfolio of Water Resources, held by Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, going to Santosh Mohan Dev.

Karnataka was depending on Mr. Dasmunshi to resolve its tussle with Goa over the diversion of water from two of the tributaries of the Mahadayi in Karnataka for meeting the drinking water needs of people of the Bombay Karnataka area.

The State had proposed the diversion of 7.45 tmcft of water from the Kalasa and Bandori nalas, two of the tributaries of the Mahadayi, into the Malaprabha basin. It said the diversion would not affect Goa at all and the share could be adjusted against whatever Karnataka is entitled to when the water is allocated to the two States.

Karnataka had made a breakthrough by getting in-principle clearance for the proposal during the NDA regime. But later the NDA Government gave in to the pressure of the BJP-led Goa Government to stay the clearance.

For the past three years, Karnataka has been trying in vain to get the Union Water Resources Ministry to permit it to go ahead with the project.

A delegation of BJP MPs had called on Mr. Dasmunshi, who promised to do "something good" for Karnataka. This was followed by a high-level delegation led by Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh calling on the Prime Minister.

Mr. Dasmunshi had said that he would convene a meeting of both the States to sort out the issue. Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane was quoted as having expressed his willingness to attend the meeting.

Despite all this no meeting was convened and with the reallocation of portfolios the prospects of an early meeting appears bleak as the new Minister may plead for some time to understand the issue fully.

Pressure

The State Government is under pressure from the people's representatives and farmers in the command area of the Malaprabha project to take early action on the water diversion.

A few months ago, the action committee headed by Pralhad Joshi, BJP MP, and Basavaraj Bommai, led an agitation, which was withdrawn at the request of the Government.

The agitators have told the Government that they would not tolerate any more delay on the project front.

They have been pressing for unilateral action by the State Government on the lines of Andhra Pradesh, which went ahead with its projects without waiting for the clearance from the Planning Commission.