Karnataka can’t start work on project immediately, says AG




Although the Supreme Court has directed the central government to notify the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal award, Karnataka cannot start the work immediately, as interim relief orders given by the tribunal in 2014 and 2015 are still binding for the neighbouring state.

Advocate General of the state Devidas Pangam told ‘The Navhind Times’ on Tuesday that it is a wrong impression that the Karnataka government can start work on the Mhadei river on notifying of the tribunal award.

He pointed out that there are interim orders given by the tribunal in 2014 and 2015 which will apply to

Karnataka till every petition on the Mhadei matter is disposed of by the Supreme Court.

Pangam also informed that Goa has challenged the Mhadei tribunal award on various grounds.

“Our main objection in the petition is that Karnataka cannot divert the water from the Mhadei basin to the Malaprabha basin. We have also opposed allowing 3.9 tmc of water to Karnataka,” he said, adding that the state government has also pointed out that the assessment of water yield in the Mhadei basin done by Karnataka is faulty as it has  taken into account the saline water as well.

As far as the projects in the Mhadei basin are concerned, Karnataka cannot start the work immediately; the reason being that the tribunal order itself said that all interim orders will apply till Karnataka prepare new projects reports, Pangam said. 

“The interim orders will also apply till the time Karnataka obtains permissions from all the authorities including the National Wildlife Protection Board, and also forest clearances. The interim orders will apply till Mhadei Water Management Authority is constituted by the Centre,” he explained.

It is pertinent to note here that the project reports to be prepared by Karnataka must be approved by the Centre.

According to the Advocate General, the interim orders passed by the tribunal in the past have totally restrained Karnataka from carrying out any activity or construction of the projects on the Mhadei.

He said that several conditions have been laid down by the tribunal while announcing the water sharing award between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Clarifying the legal position, Pangam said the recent SC order directing the Centre to notify the tribunal award will not harm the Goa’s case as Karnataka cannot start any kind of work in the Mhadei basin immediately.