Nandkumar M Kamat
Compassion is now the new currency, a new politico-economic tradable phrase in interstate water disputes as our ruling politicians have become saints overnight. But this is a different kind of compassion. It’s not applicable to residents of Gaudongri, Cotigao, Barcem, Hivarem and hundreds of our villages thirsting for drinking water. They forgot in the golden jubilee year of opinion poll how our neighboring states, which claim ‘friendly relations’,
Maharashtra and Mysore were hungrily looking at Goa as post colonial liberated geographical commodity offered on platter by the central government to be gobbled up. Otherwise its difficult to find any rational for the notorious resolution of Maharashtra legislative assembly on January 23, 1965 supporting merger of Goa and a resolution opposing Maharashtra assembly’s pro merger resolution passed by Mysore legislative assembly on March 12, 1965.
What really were territorial interests of Maharashtra and Karnataka (then Mysore state) in claiming Goa? Such hegemonistic resolutions by states in India’s post Republic constitutional federal system are obnoxious and unprecedented. Both these states did not atone for their constitutional sins or blunders on their claims regarding Goa and forgot to pass congratulatory motions in their respective assemblies after Goa got statehood on 30 May 1987.
Maharashtra has cheated Goa on ecologically destructive Virdi irrigation project which would unleash progressive desertification in Sattari and Bicholim. Karnataka has expertly manipulated figures since 1980s regarding water yield in Mahadayi river basin to work out a higher allocation figure in anticipation of any negotiation or tribunal award. The opportunistic politics by MGP, Congress and BJP aimed only at clinging to power by hook or by crook would now spell doom for Goa.
Mahadayinomics is a new term I have coined in political economics to capture the full gamut of arguments over the water resources and the natural resources economics of the Mahadayi river basin. I became a Mahadayinomist in April 1998 when Government Of Goa appointed me as a non-official expert member on the Panel Of Experts (POE) under V R Deuskar, retired secretary and chief engineer, Irrigation department, Government of Maharashtra (GOM), and members E R Saldanha, originally from Saligao, who had held the same post as Engr Deuskar, M G Padhye, retired secretary, ministry of water resources, Government of India, K S Shankar Rao, retired secretary, Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh interstate control board, joint irrigation and hydroprojects, GOM and environmental economist Dr Ligia Noronha with S D Sayanak Additional Chief Engineer, Irrigation dept, Govt of Goa as member secretary.
Our mandate was to prepare a Master Plan for the optimal utilization of the water resources of the Mahadayi/Mandovi basin upto A D 2050. The plan was submitted to the government on May 31, 1999, then tabled in assembly and accepted by the government. The recommendations of our plan have largely shaped the stand of Goa government on the interstate disputes. On February 14, 2000 the same POE was renotified for examining proposals of Government of Karnataka for diversion of water from Mahadayi basin. The report of POE was submitted to the then CM Francisco Sardinha on March 11, 2000. In Para 6 of this report it was clearly stated- “The studies made by Karnataka were found to be based on the overestimated water availability. The total 75 per cent yield from the whole of the Goa region of the basin is 86.8 TMC feet or 2,460 Million Cubic Metres
The water resources yield from the western and central regions of Goa will not be available for full scale developmental use because of the present land use, non-availability of suitable storage sites and other civil and industrial developments which have already taken place in the region and on account of the existence of a salinity zone. Even presuming that the full water resources from Karnataka, Maharashtra and the foot-hill region of the Goa state become available to the Goa state for use, the total availability of water resources for the developmental purposes could be only 54 TMC feet or 1531 MCM.
As against this the needs of Mandovi river for Goa alone would be of the order of 92 to 95 TMC feet or 2,600 to 2,700 MCM. Thus, the Mandovi basin is a water deficient basin in the perspective of water resources development planning.” POE then recorded this very important statement- “As such it is obvious that there is absolutely no scope for any diversion of water outside the basin to Malprabaha river”.
POE had examined all the correspondence between Goa and Karnataka and had noted that Goa had refuted in its letter dated March 5, 1997 the wrong minutes of the meeting of discussion between the irrigation ministers of the two states held on 10 September 1996. The wrong minutes by Karnataka had created an impression that Goa government had accepted Kalsa, Haltara and Kotni projects involving diversion of Mahadayi water. POE categorically noted in para 10-“It is clear that Government of Goa has never agreed to any diversion of water from any projects of the Mahadayi/Mandovi basin to Malprabha basin. We have already brought in para 6 above that there is no scope at all for diversion of any water from the Mandovi basin for use outside the basin area.”
That was the considered opinion by experts who had handled numerous large irrigation projects at state and central level and I still remember the profitable discussion I had with them. The terms “no scope”, and “diversion of any water” are very clear and nothing has changed on the ground in past 17 years to change this expert opinion.
Our politician saints also forgot that when Karnataka had made an interlocutory application before MWDT, they had claimed that the total yield of water in the Mahadayi basin was 199.6 TMC feet and had demanded 7.56 TMC feet immediately. Our compassionate saints also forgot that Goa had stated that Karnataka’s application is “thoroughly misconceived and based on inflated, concocted and artificially flavored alleged demands, which are far from reality and, therefore, the interlocutory application should not be entertained”.
If the argument was about drinking water why then before MWDT Goa had exposed the absolute misuse of water in the drought-affected areas of Karnataka and had blamed it for promoting sugarcane? Why Goa alleged that four lakh litres of water was supplied every day to a soft drink company’s unit in Dharwad? (To be continued.)