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Kalasa-Banduri project consent kept in abeyance

Panaji: Cowing to the pressure from Goa, the Union ministry for environment, forests and climate change on Wednesday kept in abeyance the consent granted to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Banduri project in Khanapur taluka in Belagavi district of Karnataka, which aims to divert the Mhadei river water.

A fresh letter in this regard has been issued by the Union ministry to the chief engineer of the Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd.

The letter has been issued after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant met with Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in Delhi on Wednesday morning.

On October 17, the MoEF had granted permission for the Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project.

“Based on the facts made available subsequently to this ministry, it is observed that applications for clarification of the award of the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal dated 14/08/2018 filed by government of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are still pending,”  MOEF’s deputy director  Mohit Saxena said in the letter.

It further stated that the award has also been challenged by governments of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra before the Supreme Court; and the SC has issued notice to Karnataka in a special leave petition filed by Goa.

“Pending resolution of all these cases relating to the matter, the letter issued earlier by the ministry is hereby kept in abeyance,” Saxena said.

The state BJP welcomed the Centre’s decision, appreciating Sawant’s persistent efforts towards resolving the Mhadei tangle.

“The party appreciates the efforts taken by the Chief Minister on the Mhadei tangle,” state BJP general secretary Sadanand Shet Tanawade said, adding that Javadekar kept his word,  keeping in abeyance the  consent letter given to the Karnataka project.

However, Opposition leader Digambar Kamat said the Centre’s decision needs to be examined cautiously.

“I urge the Chief Minister to demand withdrawal of the consent letter. It has been proved that the BJP used the letter for political gains in Karnataka,” Kamat tweeted.

Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai hailed the decision.

“We have won the battle by forcing the MoEF to keep the clearance letter to Karnataka in abeyance,” he said, thanking the Governor for his proactive role in the matter.  

He appreciated the government’s intervention, and thanked political parties and NGOs and other Goemkars for coming forward for the defence of the Mhadei.

Appealing to Goans to be vigilant vis-à-vis the water dispute, the Fatorda MLA observed that total withdrawal of the consent had been expected.

“Keeping the consent in abeyance is yet another temporary solution. We need a permanent solution, which is nothing but unconditional withdrawal of the letter,” he emphasised.

Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte said the Centre’s decision is like adding insult to injury.

“Goa is being treated like a joke… Immediate and complete withdrawal of the clearance letter is the only acceptable solution,” he tweeted.

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