Time for state leaders to sink differences to save Goa’s lifeline
The all-party delegation led by the Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, to New Delhi to impress upon Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar to withdraw “consent” given to Karnataka for diversion of water from Mhadei basin failed to get a firm assurance on their demand for immediate withdrawal of consent from central authorities and was told that a “written communication” on the contentious issue would be sent to the state in 10 days. What is more surprising is that Javadekar pleaded ignorance about his ministry having issued any letter clearing the Karnataka project. It is also amazing to note that it was claimed by the central authorities that the particular letter was issued by a lower level officer, despite the fact that Javadekar himself having tweeted the clearance on his official handle on October 17. The Union MoEF&CC Minister has, however, assured Goan delegation that interest of state and its people would be protected.
It is intriguing to note that while the Chief Minister claimed that no clearance has been given to Karnataka by the Union Ministry, he thought it appropriate to lead a delegation to the national capital to seek withdrawal of the consent.
The issue could have been set to rest by just seeking a clear cut official communication from the Union authorities, stating specifically that no consent has been given. However, the response of the central authorities appears to be shrouded in some sort of mystery. The Union ministry on one hand is claiming that no consent has been issued and on the other hand it is claimed that a lower level official had issued the order. The controversy generated following Javadekar’s tweet could have been set to rest at the meeting between the Goan delegation and Javadekar on Monday itself by clearly stating that no clearance was issued at all. Why seek 10 days’ time to respond to the legitimate demand of Goa if nothing wrong has been done?
Surprisingly despite claiming that no consent was ever given, Sawant submitted a representation to Javadekar highlighting the wrongful manner in which the letter was issued on October 17 by the Union ministry to Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd as regards the Kalasa-Banduri project. What letter is Sawant speaking about and why is he seeking its immediate withdrawal when he is claiming that no consent has been given? The Goan delegation has brought to the notice of the Union Minister that the Mhadei water dispute was sub-judice and that Goa’s application on the issue was pending before the Supreme Court. That state’s application on Mhadei issue is before the apex court and it should be known to the officials of the ministry as they are party to the issue. It is intriguing to note that despite the issue being before the top most court of the country the MoEF&CC officials issued permission to Karnataka ostensibly to help the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government there to derive political mileage in the upcoming by-elections to the state legislative assembly.
Goans have had to wage a long battle to protect the Mhadei, their lifeline, and when it appeared that they were on the verge of success, came as a bolt from the blue wherein their interests were sought to be compromised for ensuring larger political gain for the BJP in Karnataka. That there appears to be a gameplay involved in the matter and perhaps some in Goan delegation appear to have seen it and called the visit to New Delhi eyewash. It is time for Goan BJP leaders to prove that they are not part of any gameplan by seeking a probe as to how the letter came to be issued by a junior level officer, which was tweeted by Javadekar. While some BJP leaders at the national level might have been behind issuance of letter to Karnataka, the BJP leaders in Goa should ensure that interests of Goa were not compromised to derive political gains in the neighbouring state. The state BJP leaders should set political differences with opposition aside and fight to save the Mhadei. The united fight to protect Mhadei should continue unabated.