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Maharashtra loses case due to variations in water needs

PANAJI: The Mahadayi (Mhadei) Water Disputes Tribunal has rejected the demand of Maharashtra for diversion of water of Mhadei basin to Tillari river basin for irrigation or for industrial uses, as the tribunal found considerable variations in the projected quantum of water requirements.

The MWDT has observed in its August 14 order that it found that various assessments of projected water demands in respect of the Mhadei river basin by Maharashtra are not based on thorough investigation of all related issues including the surveys etc of the potential projects sites for water utilisation.

Hence it would not be appropriate at all to accept the projected future demand of 6.40 TMC feet (180 MCUM) by Maharashtra in respect of water of the Mhadei basin, which is almost equal to water availability from the catchment area of the basin in the territory of Maharashtra at 75 per cent dependability, the tribunal has said.

The assumption of Maharashtra that all the available water at 75 per cent dependability can be considered as utilisable water is not well founded either actually or legally. This becomes evident, at once, if one refers to the information provided by Maharashtra in respect of water availability estimated at 75 per cent dependability and the proposed annual utilisation in respect of four identified projects which are indicated in the “compilation of pre-feasibility report and the salient features of the proposed projects in the Mahadayi basin,” the tribunal report has said.

It has been pointed out by the MWDT that the variations mentioned have not been explained by Maharashtra in any of the documents filed by it.

B C Kunjir, the witness of Maharashtra, mentioned about the projected future needs of Maharashtra vis-à-vis the Mhadei   basin as included in the ‘master plan of Mahadayi basin’, and was also touched upon in the “further amended statement of case of the state of Maharashtra”.

However, Kunjir did not explain the reasons for variations.

“The tribunal is of the firm opinion that the approach for planning the available water resources without going into the realistic demand would lead to non-optimal planning of the available water resources,” the order has stated.

The enumerated water needs of Maharashtra were: irrigation (4.72 TMC feet); drinking water needs in part of the Mandovi  basin (0.05 TMC feet); drinking water needs in adjoining ‘un-commanded’ area of Tillari basin (0.07 TMC feet); industrial water needs in part of the Mandovi  basin (0.03 TMC feet);  adjoining ‘un-commanded’ area of the basin (0.03 TMC feet); provision for future development (0.89 TMC feet) and 10 per cent  evaporation losses (0.58 TMC feet).

All water demands total to 6.40 TMC feet.

The MWDT, however, found that there are variations in the projected quantum of water use for various purposes as indicated in the master plan, different documents filed by Maharashtra and as per the study of Kunjir.

Consequently, Maharashtra has been granted 1.33 TCM feet of Mhadei water for meeting the in-basin needs in respect of five projects:  0.56 TMC feet for the Virdi large MI project; 0.32 TCM feet for the Morachi Rai minor irrigation project; 0.16 TCM feet for the Virdi B minor irrigation project; 0.27 YMC for the Dhangarwada minor irrigation project and 0.02 TMC feet for the Ambadgao minor irrigation project, which will be inclusive of all ‘consumptive’ uses including reservoir and other losses.

The tribunal rejected rest of the claims of Maharashtra.

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