Karnataka to consult legal experts on Mahadayi water verdict

Bengaluru, Aug 7 (IANS) The Karnataka government would consult legal experts and decide on August 16 whether to approach the Supreme Court on the rejection of its interim plea by a tribunal on sharing of the Mahadayi river water, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Sunday.

“We will decide on August 16 the next course of action on the Mahadayi dispute (with Goa) after consulting legal experts, including Fali Nariman,” Siddaramaiah told reporters after an all-party meeting here on the decade-old vexed issue.

The Mahaydai Water Disputes Tribunal, headed by Justice J.N. Panchal, on July 27 rejected the state’s petition for 7.6 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water from the river, citing various grounds, including ecological damage the project may cause.

The state government is also mulling on moving the tribunal again over the rejection of its plea for releasing the water from the Malaprabha basin in the river to the Kalsa-Bhanduri canal, being built to supply drinking water for the four drought-prone districts – Bagalkot, Belagavi, Gadag and Hubballi-Dharwad – in the state’s northern region.

“We have two legal options – to seek clarification under the under the provisions of section 53 of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act of 1956 or file a special leave petition in the apex court challenging the tribunal order,” Siddaramaiah said.

As the 77-km-long Mahadayi flows into Goa from Karnataka, the former has been objecting over sharing its water, as 52 km of its stretch is in its state and is a lifeline for its people.

“We have been trying to convince Goa over the years that our project does not affect the river flow into its state, as about 200tmc feet of water is going into the Arabian Sea every year unutilised,” Siddaramaiah added.

The tribunal rejection sparked off massive protests in the region by farmers associations, Kannada organisations and political parties. A state-wide shutdown was also observed on July 31.

Leaders and lawmakers of the opposition BJP, Janata Dal-Secular and regional political parties participated in the two-hour long meeting at the state secretariat.

Among the leaders who attended the meeting included B.S. Yeddyurappa, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Jagdish Shettar and K.S. Eshwarappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD-S.

Barring Eshwarappa, all the four were also chief ministers of the state.

Ministers, lawmakers of all parties in the state legislature and Parliament also participated in the meeting along with senior officials.

Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge and Union Minister Ananth Kumar, however, were not present at the meeting due to prior commitments.

–IANS

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