Panaji: Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday sought 15 more days to take a final call on the Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project of Karnataka that aims to divert water of the Mhadei river.
Javadekar along with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant held discussions at a meeting with a delegation of prominent Goans aggrieved by the Centre’s stand on the Mhadei water dispute.
The delegation included Hrudaynath Shirodkar of the Progressive Front of Goa, Durgadas Kamat of the Goa Forward Party, former MLA Lavu Mamledar, social activist Prajal Sakhardande and others.
The panel attended the meeting in a city hotel on Wednesday, where Javadekar sought 15 more days for resolving the issue triggered by a letter from the Centre giving consent to the Karnataka project.
On Tuesday, the state received a letter from Javadekar informing that a committee is being constituted by his ministry to review the issue in detail as the state government has said the Karnataka project is more than a drinking water project.
At the meeting, the delegation members brought to the notice of the Union minister that the Karnataka government has been fraudulently trying to obtain permission from the Centre: in the guise of a drinking water project, it wants to construct a dam on the Mhadei at Kalasa-Banduri in Khanapur taluka. Actually, the proposal has been for a river valley hydroelectrical power project.
Javadekar told the delegation that a committee comprising the secretary and a joint secretary of the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change will visit the project site and submit a report to him.
The Centre will require 15 more days to resolve the issue, the Union minister said.
Speaking to media persons after the meeting, the Chief Minister urged the people to be patient as Javadekar has sought 15 more days to resolve the contentious issue.
Sawant exuded confidence that the central committee will submit a report in favour of Goa after inspecting the project site.
“Javadekar will definitely mete out justice to us on the Mhadei matter,” he hoped.
Sawant also said that if the MoEF fails to take a decision in favour of Goa in the next 15 days then the state will fight against the MoEF by taking a legal course.
The delegation impressed upon Javadekar on the immediate withdrawal of the consent letter given for the Kalasa-Banduri project.
When asked about the state’s stand on the withdrawal of the Centre’s consent to the Karnataka project, Sawant maintained, “I have been saying that the Goa government will not compromise on the Mhadei dispute. And our stand will not change.”
Shirodkar said that though Javadekar has sought 15 more days, the agitation to protect the interest of the state vis-a-vis the Mhadei dispute will continue until justice is done to Goa.
Kamat observed that Javadekar seeking 15 days’ time is nothing but a bargaining tactic, which has been adopted factoring in assembly bypolls in Karnataka.
Sakhardande also said the agitation will continue to protect the Mhadei, which is the lifeline of the state.