Goa CM urges Javdekar to withdraw sanction to Mhadei project

Panaji, Dec 11: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said he had contacted Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar and once again urged him to withdraw or keep in abeyance his ministry's green nod to Karnataka's Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project, which the Goa government has repeatedly opposed.

Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Sawant also said, that Javadekar has assured him of a decision in the matter over the next few days.

"I have written to Prakash Javadekarji and spoke to him yesterday (Tuesday) too. He has just come back from Spain and has assured me that a decision would be taken soon. My government has demanded that the MoEF either withdraw the letter written to Karnataka or keep it in abeyance," Sawant said.

In October this year, two months before the crucial Karnataka bypolls in 15 Assembly constituencies, the Javadekar-led MoEF had given a green nod to Karnataka's Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Banduri dam project which ostensibly aims to divert water from the Mhadei river basin to the water deficit basin of the Malaprabha river ostensibly for drinking water purposes.

After the Goa government and opposition parties collectively pressurised the MoEF to withdraw the clearance, claiming the project would cause ecological devastation in Goa, Javadekar had sought time to address the concerns.

With the MoEF not paying heed to the state government's demands for nearly two months now, the Opposition has accused Pramod Sawant of surrendering the interests of the state for BJP's political interests, which according to state Congress president Girish Chodankar was to win the Assembly bypolls in Karnataka.

The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.

An inter-state water disputes tribunal, set up by the central government, after hearing the over two-decade-old Mhadei river water sharing dispute among Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, in August 2018 allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka and 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra.

Karnataka as well as Goa have filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the contents of the Tribunal's order.

Goa has also accused Karnataka of already diverting the Mhadei river water without the formal notification of the Tribunal's award by the Central government.