Panaji: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will lead an all-party delegation to New Delhi to meet Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on November 4, over the issue of environment clearance to Karnataka for the diversion of Mhadei waters to its Malaprabha basin through the Kalasa-Bhandura project.
The delegation will include Union Minister of State for AYUSH (Independent Charge) Shripad Naik, Minister for Water Resources Filipe Nery Rodrigues, Member of Rajya Sabha (Goa) Vinay Tendulkar, Secretary for Water Resources Sanjay Gihar, chief engineer of the department of water resources Sandeep Nadkarni and state Advocate General Devidas Pangam besides a member each of the Congress party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Forward Party and Nationalist Congress Party.
The group will also include president of the Mhadei Bachao Andolan (MBA) Nirmala Sawant and MBA secretary Rajendra Kerkar.
Coming out with this information, the Chief Minister said that the delegation will request the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change to withdraw the October 17 letter to the Karnataka government stating that the Kalasa-Bhandura project being a drinking water project does not need environmental clearance.
Speaking further, the Chief Minister said that Javadekar will also be requested as regards conducting a joint inspection of the Kalasa-Bhandura project works as carried out by Karnataka government, to ensure that there is no violation of the directives of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.
“The joint inspection team should then submit its report to the single national level tribunal to be set up by the central government for settling inter-state water disputes, as the tenure of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal has already ended,” he added.
The Chief Minister also said that he has already spoken to the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change on the issue and was told that the particular environment clearance to the Karnataka government was for the purpose of drinking water from Mhadei river, and not for the Kalasa-Bhandura irrigational project. “I also told the central minister that his Twitter message had sent wrong signals to Goa and Goans and he immediately withdrew the same,” Sawant added.
The particular Twitter message of Javadekar had stated: “On the follow up of my cabinet colleague @JoshiPralhad (Union Mines Minister), Kalasa-Bhandura drinking water project in Karnataka has been granted environmental approval.”
It may be recalled that in a clarification letter dated October 17, 2019, written to Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd, it was clarified by the director of IA, I Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change that the Kalasa-Bhandura Water Supply Scheme does not attract the provisions of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 and its subsequent amendments.
On August 14, 2018, the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal, which was hearing a dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over sharing of water from the Mhadei, allotted to Karnataka 13.42 TMC of water – including 3.9 TMC of water for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin – from the Mhadei river basin.
Meanwhile, reliable sources informed this daily that the continuous works carried out by the Karnataka government on the Kalasa-Bhandura project, violating the award of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal, may have already resulted in diversion of at least 30 per cent of the water of Mhadei river. “An inspection of this project will clearly reveal this violation,” the sources noted.