K’taka, M’rashtra need not take Goa’s nod for Mhadei projects: Centre

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Panaji: Informing that the Union Jal Shakti Ministry has assigned the task of taking up the study of River Mhadei’s salinity to the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, the central government has stated that Karnataka and Maharashtra, the upper riparian states, do not require any prior consent of the lower riparian state of Goa to undertake projects on River Mhadei.

A letter sent by Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on July 29, 2020, states that the government of Karnataka has recently submitted feasibility reports of Kalasa Nala diversion scheme and Bhandura Nala diversion scheme to the Central Water Commission (CWC) and these are under appraisal as per the existing CWC guidelines and as per the directions/order given in the report-cum-decision of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal. Sawant had written a letter to Shekhawat on March 5, 2020, with a request not to consider any proposal of the Karnataka government for diversion of water outside the Mhadai basin till finalisation of the dispute by the Supreme Court and the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.

“Regarding prior consent of the lower riparian state, you may kindly refer to the report-cum-decision of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal on August 14, 2018 (para 766 of volume VI) mentioning that ‘…this Tribunal has no hesitation in holding that the upper riparian states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, though do require requisite clearances and approvals as required by law and from the central government and the planning commission (Now Niti Aayog), but they do not require any prior consent of the lower riparian state of Goa and similarly the state of Maharashtra, being an upper riparian state vis-à-vis the state of Goa, also does not require any such prior consent of the state of Goa,’” Shekhawat has said in the letter sent to the Chief Minister.

The letter further states that so far as the issue of sharing the copy of the project proposals with the co-basin states is concerned, as per the existing norms of any project proposed in the river basin for which no tribunal ward or inter-state agreement exists, the copy will be circulated to the co-basin states by the Project Authority. The letter also states that the Central Water Commission will send copy of the proposal for reference (PFR) to the Resident Commissioner of the party states in New Delhi.

“However, it is felt that in the above norms there is no bar on sharing the PFR or the detailed project report (DPR) of the project proposed in the river basin for which the Tribunal award has been notified to the co-basin states by the Project Authority and I have already instructed CWC to send a copy of the PFR/DPR to the Resident Commissioner of party states in New Delhi,” Shekhawat has said in the letter.

The Union Minister further said, “Moreover, you may also recall the discussion in respect of the Mahadayi River Dispute, and as discussed in the meeting, taking into account the concerns raised by you regarding the issue of salinity in Mhadei river, this ministry has assigned National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee to take up the study of salinity of River Mhadei and submit a report to the ministry.”