Panaji: The Goa government has sent a reminder letter to Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar and urged him to fulfill the assurance given by him on withdrawing or keeping in abeyance a consent letter granted to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Bhanduri project for diverting water from River Mhadei.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday told the media that he spoke to Javadekar on Tuesday. Sawant said that the Union Minister has assured him of a decision in the matter over the next few days.
“I have written to Prakash Javadekar and spoke to him too, yesterday (Tuesday). He has just come back from Spain. He assured me that a decision would be taken soon. My government has demanded that the MoEF&CC either withdraw the letter written to Karnataka or keep it in abeyance,” Sawant said.
Goa is firm on its demand to either have the letter withdrawn or keep it in abeyance, Sawant reiterated, informing that the Goa government’s reminder letter has listed out the entire history of the dispute between the two states on the Mhadei river water diversion.
“We have also demanded that the Union government should not give any further clearances to projects on Mhadei river without taking Goa into confidence and without conducting site inspection,” he said.
On October 17, almost two months before the crucial Karnataka bypolls in 15 assembly constituencies, the Javadekar-led ministry had given permission to Karnataka’s Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Bhanduri dam project, which ostensibly aims to divert water from the Mhadei river basin to the water-deficit basin of the Malaprabha river, claiming the project is for drinking water purposes.
After the Goa government and opposition parties collectively pressurised the MoEF&CC to withdraw the clearance, claiming the project would cause ecological devastation in Goa, Javadekar had first sent a letter to Chief Minister Sawant that his ministry has constituted a committee to examine the issue and later sought 15 days’ time on November 20 to address the concerns.
After hearing the over two-decade-old Mhadei river water sharing dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, an inter-state Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal, which was set up by the central government, on August 14, 2018 allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka and 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra.
Karnataka and Goa have filed special leave petitions before the Supreme Court challenging the contents of the Tribunal’s order.