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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said that the ball was now in the BJP’s court to settle the inter-state Mahadayi river water dispute. He was reacting to BJP’s protest by entering the well of the House in the Legislative Assembly against ministers being absent as the issue was being discussed. PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa and Bengaluru development minister K J George were the only two ministers present when JDS member Konareddi was speaking on the issue.
As JDS deputy floor leader Y S V Datta pointed to empty treasury benches, many of his party members along with BJP demanded that the House be adjourned for some time and Ministers be asked to be present.
BJP members then entered the well, objecting to the Ministers’ absence and questioned the government’s seriousness about conducting the House.
This was followed by a war of words between BJP and Congress members.
By then Siddaramaiah and some ministers entered the House.
Pointing out that George and Mahadevappa were present, he said “the ball now is in your court on the Mahadayi issue. It is for your party (BJP) government at the Centre to do things.”
“Go to Delhi and ask your party government at the Centre on the issue,” he taunted the BJP.
Congress legislators supported his attack on BJP by thumping their desks, again leading to an exchange of words.
BJP leaders, including opposition leader Jagadish Shettar hit back, questioning what the Congress led UPA government had done for 10 years.
Karnataka government has locked horns with neighbouring Goa on the larger issue of sharing Mahadayi River water.
The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal had last September asked the states concerned, including Maharashtra, to resolve the water dispute amicably by holding discussions.
Karnataka has for long been advocating out of court settlement and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.
Goa had earlier expressed its opposition to the out of court settlement of the dispute over sharing of the Mahadayi River waters with the lower riparian state of Karnataka.
Karnataka government had petitioned the tribunal, seeking release of 7.56 tmcft water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project, being undertaken to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag.
The tribunal’s July 27 interim order after hearing arguments from Karnataka and Goa had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds, including ecological damage that the project may cause.
Challenging this, the state government has filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court.