Kalasa-Banduri site: SC for joint committee inspection

SC for joint committee inspection on Kalasa-Banduri project site

The court sought a report from the monitoring committee within four weeks

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed a joint committee to inspect the site of the Kalasa-Banduri project to ascertain whether any water was being diverted by Karnataka into the Malaprabha basin.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah allowed inspection by the committee as Goa sought contempt action against Karnataka government officers, on the ground that water was unplugged without the Central government's clearance.

The court sought a report from the monitoring committee within four weeks.

The August 14, 2018 order of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal allocating 13.42 thousand million cubic feet of water from the Mahadayi to Karnataka has been challenged by Goa and Maharashtra through separate petitions.

Senior advocate P S Narasimha, appearing for Goa, contended that there been a clear violation of this court’s order of March 2020. 

An undertaking was filed by Karnataka that water from the Mahadayi basin would not get automatically unplugged. However, during the Covid-19 period, it was found that there was a diversion of water.

Karnataka's Advocate General Prabhulinga Navadgi, senior advocate Mohan Katarki and advocate Nishanth Patil denied the contention by Goa. However, all the counsel, including from Goa and Maharasthra agreed to a joint inspection.

In March 2020, the top court had declined to entertain a plea by Goa against a statement made by Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa for making budget allocation for the Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project in Hubballi-Dharwad and other parts in North Karnataka.

The court had then clarified that the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal's order of April 17, 2014, restraining any blocking of the flow of river water or its diversion into the Malaprabha basin would continue to operate till other conditions were fulfilled.

The Centre had on February 27, 2020, notified the tribunal's decision of August 14, 2018, for its implementation. 

This has prompted Karnataka to go ahead and allocate funds for the project.

Goa, for its part, opposed the diversion of water, saying its lifeline faced an imminent threat of choking because of the reduction of water flow and consequent disruption of its ecology. 

The tribunal has allocated Karnataka 13.42 tmcft, Goa 24 tmcft and Maharashtra 1.3 tmcft in its final decision.

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