Panaji, Oct 25 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday wrote to Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar, urging him to withdraw green clearance to Karnataka’s controversial Kalasa-Banduri dam and water diversion project, across the Mhadei river.
In his letter to Javadekar, whose decision on Wednesday triggered a controversy in the coastal state, Sawant accused Karnataka of illegally diverting water from the Mhadei basin to the deficit basin of the Malaprabha river in Karnataka, irrespective of the fact that the Mhadei Interstate Water Dispute award given in 2018 was not even notified and operational.
“I request you to direct the Ministry of Environment and Forests to immediately withdraw the letter. It would also be in right perspective, if a team of your ministry conducts a visit to the site, along with representatives of the basin states to inspect and get first hand information of the actions of the state of Karnataka of actually diverting waters of the Mahadayi basin to Malaprabha basin in contravention of even the directives of the Tribunal,” Sawant said in his letter.
The Chief Minister also said, that the Mhadei river was the lifeline of Goa and its basin constitutes almost half the territory of the coastal state, and that there are five wildlife sanctuaries and one bird sanctuary in basin, which is an ecologically fragile bio-diversity hotspot.
Sawant has also urged Javdekar not to entertain any further plea from the Karnataka government related to the Mhadei basin, be it forest or wildlife clearances “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”.
In Goa, the Opposition has been demanding the resignation of Pramod Sawant, accusing him of being incapable of preventing the MoEF from granting the clearances to the Karnataka project, without hearing Goa’s point of view.
The Opposition in unison has also demanded, that Sawant facilitate the summoning of a special session of the Goa legislative assembly, to discuss and pass a unanimous resolution urging the MoEF to withdraw the letter.
Sawant himself has assured, that if the MoEF failed to withdraw the letter, his government would be filing an appeal against the same in the National Green Tribunal.
The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.
The Tribunal hearing the over two-decade old dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over Mhadei river water sharing had, in its award in August 2018, allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) from the Mhadei river basin (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka. Maharashtra has been allotted 1.33 TMC.