1/3rd of Goa will become eco refugees: Cong on Mahadayi

1/3rd of Goa will become eco refugees: Cong on Mahadayi

Nearly one-third of Goa's population will turn into "ecological refugees", if Karnataka is allowed to go ahead with the Kalasa-Bhandura project and divert water from the Mahadayi (Mhadei in Goa) basin to the Malaprabha, the Goa Congress said in its memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

Goa Congress leaders, who staged a dharna at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Sunday, also demanded that the Prime Minister direct the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to withdraw its clearance given in October this year to the Rs-841 crore water diversion project.

"We demand that the environment clearance granted to the government of Karnataka for Kalasa-Banduri be revoked immediately and furthermore Karnataka government be directed to undertake systematic management of entire Malaprabha river catchment area and use the full potential of the water surplus from Renuka Sagara reservoir, which can fully meet all the needs. There is absolutely no need for diversion of flow of Mahadayi river into this reservoir," states the memorandum signed by state Congress president Girish Chodankar, former CMs Francisco Sardinha and Luizinho Faleiro and leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat.

"Any decision favouring Karnataka, we caution you, would cascade into an irreversible ecological disaster in Goa leading to salinisation and progressive desertification and collapse of our fisheries and tourism industries, leading to unprecedented crisis in the history of modern India. More than half a million people in 190 villages in Goa may turn into ecological refugees and international community would not tolerate such a situation," the memorandum said. According to census figures, the estimated population of Goa is around 1.5 million.

In October, two months ahead of the crucial Karnataka assembly bypolls, the MoEF had given a green nod to the Kalasa-Banduri project, which the Goa government as well as parties across political barriers have expressed opposition to.

The two states are already battling out a dispute over the sharing of the Mahadayi river in the Supreme Court, after both parties expressed reservations about the award by the Mahadayi inter-state water dispute tribunal last year.