Mhadei verdict: BJP claims ‘victory’, Congress dubs ruling “unfortunate”

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Panaji, Aug 14 (IANS) The Goa government on Tuesday claimed to have achieved a “major victory” after the Mhadei Inter-state Water Disputes Tribunal in its ruling on Tuesday, allotted 13.42 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) from the Mhadei river basin to Karnataka, as against 36.55 TMC demanded by the southern state.

The Congress in Goa, the leading opposition party, however, called the verdict “very unfortunate” and urged the Goa government to appeal against the Tribunal verdict, which a party spokesperson alleged was manipulated by the ruling central BJP leadership.

“It is a major victory for Goa,” Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni, who is representing the state government at the Tribunal in the inter-state water dispute, said in a written statement issued here.

Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are currently battling a dispute over claim to water in the Mhadei river basin. Mhadei also known as the Mandovi river, is known as a lifeline in the northern parts of the state.

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

While 78 per cent of the basin of the Mhadei river lies in Goa, 42.79 per cent of the basin is located in Karnataka and a small portion comes under Maharashtra.

Karnataka had claimed 36.55 TMC water from the Mhadei basin, which included 1.50 TMC for irrigation and drinking water supply, 7.56 TMC for diversion to the already depleted basin of the Malaprabha river through the Kalsa-Bahnduri canal project, 14.97 for power generation, among other claims.

In its ruling, the Tribunal headed by Justice J.M. Panchal, ruled that only 13.42 TMC water would be allotted from the Mhadei basin to Karnataka. While the Maharashtra government had demanded 7 TMC water, the Tribunal allotted it only 1.33 TMC.

Nadkarni in his statement also said the Goa government did not have any objection to Karnataka’s claim for use of water from the basin for consumptive purposes.

“Karnataka has been allocated only 5.5 TMC of water which also includes 1.5 TMC of water for in-basin consumptive use for which the state of Goa did not have any objection,” Nadkarni said, calling the decision a “major victory”.

A state Water Resources department official said that the 8.02 TMC water allotted to Karnataka for power generation, would not have much impact on Goa’s needs, because the water would continue to flow downwards along the river into Goa.

The lawyer’s comment is incidentally contrary to repeated claims made by Water Resources Minister Vinod Palienkar who had claimed that the Goa government would not share “one drop of water” from the Mhadei river. Palienkar was unavailable for comment.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is currently undergoing treatment in a US hospital, has expressed happiness at the verdict.

“I am happy that the Mhadei Tribunal with its final verdict has done justice to Goa,” Parrikar said in a tweet soon after the verdict on Tuesday.

The Congress meanwhile has alleged that the BJP-led coalition government “should not waste a minute” in appealing against the verdict, calling the ruling “very unfortunate”.

“They should contest in the Supreme Court to get justice. If this is not done, then people of Goa will have to come on the roads to remind the government that this was their job and they should do it as early as possible,” former Chief Minister and Goa Congress spokesperson Francisco Sardinha said.

Sardinha also alleged that the members of the Tribunal were appointed by the Centre and that the ruling was known before hand, because BJP national President Amit Shah had promised the people of Karnataka of diverting the Mhadei river water in the run-up to the polls in the southern state.

“But it was known, because last time at the time of elections in Karnataka Amit Shah had promised them, if we come to power within so many months, you would get water from Mhadei. So this Tribunal is in their hands. They have appointed the members. but then it is not final,” Sardinha said.



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