Kalasa-Bhandura project: Opposition tears into Goa CM

The Opposition in Goa lashed out at Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for not doing enough to prevent the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests from granting an environment clearance (EC) to the Kalasa-Bhandura water diversion project along the Mahadayi river.

It claimed that the project across the state's principal river would "kill Goa's flora and fauna".

Soon after Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javdekar tweeted that his ministry had granted an EC for the project on the request of Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Karnataka MP Prahlad Joshi, the Goa Chief Minister said that he would comment on the issue only after studying it.

Earlier, former Deputy Chief Minister and Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai insisted that the Kalasa-Bhandura project across the Mahadayi (Mhadei in Goa) river was not a drinking water project and blamed the BJP-led government in Goa for causing an "inexcusable, unjustified" affront to all of Goa, by not doing enough groundwork to prevent the project from getting an EC.

"Shocked and outraged that Environmental Clearance has been given to Kalasa Bhandura project by the Union Government. This is no drinking water project. This is a 'Kill Mahadayi River Project'," Sardesai said.

"There’s no better way to kill Goa’s flora and fauna than to build on Mahadayi and divert water. Something the former CM Parrikar realised as dangerous. What is the current CMs stand? Goa and Goemkars who love Mahadayi as their own mother are waiting for an answer!" Sardesai also said.

Reacting to the development Sawant was unable to offer credible comment.

"I will study the matter before commenting. I will go through the matter. I am not sure what has happened," Sawant said.

Mahadayi river is considered as a lifeline in the northern parts of the coastal state.

It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through the territory of Maharashtra.

Last year, the Mahadayi interstate waster dispute Tribunal which was hearing a dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, for nearly two decades, over sharing of water from the Mahadayi river, in its award had allotted 13.42 TMC (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) from the Mahadayi river basin to Karnataka.

Maharashtra has been allotted 1.33 TMC. Both governments have appealed to the Supreme Court against the provisions of the award.

The Goa government has also filed a disqualification petition in the Supreme Court subsequently, after the Goa Water Resources department claimed, that canals had been surreptitiously built in the Mahadayi basin in Karnataka to divert the river water to the deficit Malaprabha river basin.

In September this year, both Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and Union Minister Prahlad Joshi had urged the Goa Chief Minister to agree to an out of court settlement vis-a-vis the water sharing dispute, an offer which Sawant had rejected.

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