Tribunal to hear Mahadayi issue

With the Union Ministry of Water Resources issuing a notification, a tribunal to resolve the Mahadayi river water dispute among Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra will start functioning shortly.

The Supreme Court’s former judge Justice J M Panchal will head the tribunal while retired judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court Justice P S Narayan and retired judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court Justice Vineet Mittal will be its members.

The Ministry has fixed a three-year term to be extended to another two years for the tribunal to give its final award, says the notification issued recently.

A team of advocates led by F S Nariman will represent the government of Karnataka.

In December 2009 the Union Cabinet had approved setting up of the tribunal to resolve the long-pending inter-state dispute among the three states. The tribunal, demanded by Goa, is termed a major setback to Karnataka as it has been opposing any such move by the Centre saying it would prolong the issue.

Earlier, Karnataka had planned to utilise 7.56 tmc feet of water from Kalasa-Banduri tributaries of the Mahadayi river to meet drinking water scarcity in around 100 habitats of northern Karnataka, including Hubli and Dharwad.

The Centre had given in-principle clearance for the project in April 2002 considering the water diversion for drinking purpose.

Subsequently, the Centre’s Water Resources Ministry kept the clearance in abeyance following objections from Goa, which claimed that the Mahadayi was a deficit basin and water diversion would impact on the environment in the basin.

Though the Centre had convened several meetings of the basin states, a resolution of the dispute was not forthcoming as Goa stuck to its demand of setting up of the tribunal.

The Mahadayi originates in Karnataka and flows for 29 km in the state and passes through Maharashtra and Goa, where its length is 52 km, before reaching the Arabian Sea.

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