Mhadei water diversion will directly affect 3,600 farmers

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Soiru Velip | NT

Uste-Sattari

The Mhadei river valley is one of the few surviving pockets that have rich biodiversity leading to prosperity in the villages situated along the river banks in Sattari taluka in North Goa. However, all this is at stake due to the constant attempts being made by the Karnataka government to divert water from the basin to another basin in the neighbouring state by using political influence at the Centre.

River Mhadei is undoubtedly the main source of water for Goa, especially the north district. However, the continuous attempts by the neighbouring state to divert the river water have created fear and anxiety in the minds of the people living along the banks of the river.

Worry writ large on the faces of villagers when this reporter visited the Uste village in Sattari, which is the entry point of the River Mhadei in Goa. These villagers are engaged in agriculture and other traditional occupations.

According to government data, there are over 3,600 farmers in Sattari who have registered themselves with the Valpoi zonal agricultural office through the Krishi card. These farmers, who cultivate rice, cashew, areca nut, coconut, banana and vegetables, said that their only source of water is the Mhadei river.

The locals in the villages located on the banks of the river are well aware of Karnataka’s plan to divert a large quantum of water from the river basin to the Malaprabha river basin.

During interaction, the villagers told this daily that water from the Mhadei river is their only source of water for drinking, agriculture as well as for pets. They said that the river also serves as the lifeline for the wild animals, birds and plants in

the region. A number of agricultural farms situated along the banks of the river was enough proof of how the people are totally dependant on the Mhadei water.

The Mhadei valley has a large pocket of dense, unspoiled evergreen forests, which have been a part of the rich culture of the local folks, especially in the villages of Sattari. The valley is one of the richest reservoirs of biodiversity in the world that reflects complexity in plant, animal and bird life.

The Mhadei river originates in Degao village of Khanapur taluka in Belagavi district in Karnataka in the Western Ghats and meets a tributary in Uste village of Sattari in Goa.

According to the locals, the Goa’s lifeline will face imminent threat because of reduction in water flow, siltation and disruption of its ecology due to a change in its profile, if Karnataka succeeds in its plan of constructing dams on the river for diverting water to Hubbali and Dharwad areas.

Some villagers said that a reduction in the water flow of a tributary flowing from the Kalasa-Banduri side is being witnessed by them since the last couple of years. They said that this has been happening, as Karnataka has already carried out work of canals in such a way that the water flow can be diverted towards their side.