Mahadayi project: Goa CM asks withdrawal of Central nod

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant (PTI Photo)

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday wrote to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, asking for immediate withdrawal of the Centre's consent for the Kalsa-Bhanduri project on the Mahadayi river in neighbouring Karnataka.

After Javadekar tweeted two days ago that the drinking water project had received Environment Clearance (EC), there have been loud protests by opposition parties in Goa as well as the BJP government of the coastal state.

"I request you to direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to immediately withdraw the letter of October 17, 2019," Sawant wrote to Javadekar.

The ministry's letter apparently conveyed to Karnataka that the Kalsa-Bhanduri being a drinking water project does not need environment clearance, the chief minister said in his missive.

"It is not understood on what basis the (environment) ministry reached the conclusion that the project is purely a drinking water project. The pleadings of Karnataka and also the evidence produced by their witnesses before the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal clearly indicate that one of the purposes of this project is to augment irrigation in the Malaprabha project command," Sawant wrote.

The Goa CM urged Javadekar to send a team of officials to visit the site along with representatives of riparian states and get first-hand information about Karnataka "diverting waters of Mahadayi basin to Malaprabha basin in contravention of even the directions of the tribunal".

"I also request you to direct the ministry to not entertain any further request from the state of Karnataka for any kind of clearance for a project in the Mahadayi basin, whether the environmental clearance, forest clearance, wildlife clearance, etc, till the disputes are finally resolved by the Apex court, the clarifications as sought are given by the Tribunal and the Award is notified by the Union government and made operative," Sawant's letter said.

On August 14, 2018 the Mhadei Water Dispute tribunal which was hearing the dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over sharing of water from the Mhadei (Mahadayi) river, allotted 13.42 TMC water (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) from the Mhadei river basin to Karnataka.

Maharashtra was allotted 1.33 TMC water. Both Goa and Karnataka have filed petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the tribunal award.

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