Following a series of protest by Goa, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Wednesday kept in abeyance a letter it wrote in October to Karnataka giving the green nod to its Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project on Mahadayi river.
Goa and Karnataka are locked in a dispute over the sharing of Mahadayi waters, and Kalasa-Banduri project aims at providing drinking water to three north Karnataka districts by diverting water from the Mahadayi.
In a letter written to the Chief Engineer, Karnataka Netravati Nigam Limited, the MoEF points to legal petitions from Goa and Karnataka to the ministry and the special leave petition filed by the Goa government against Karnataka before the Supreme Court in this matter. The letter was made public by Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has issued a fresh communication keeping its earlier letter dated 17th Oct 2019 on Kalasa Bhandura Drinking Water Supply Scheme issued to Karnataka in abeyance till all connected legal disputes are resolved. pic.twitter.com/OfTBDfFBJE
— Dr. Pramod Sawant (@DrPramodPSawant) December 18, 2019
“Based on facts made available subsequently to this Ministry it is observed that applications for clarification of the award of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal dated August 14, filed by the Governments of Goa and Karnataka, are still pending,” the letter said.
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“The award has also been challenged by the states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra before the Supreme Court. In SLP filed by the state of Goa, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the state of Karnataka,” it adds.
For the last two weeks, Goa CM Sawant has been stressing on repeated communication with the Union Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar on the matter. He had led an all-party delegation to the national capital in November and had presented Javadekar a memorandum stating three wildlife sanctuaries in Goa would be directly impacted by the water diversion. They also stressed that any diversion means an immediate impact to “42 per cent of the state’s total geographical base”.
The sanctuaries mentioned are the Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary, the Bhagwan Mahavir national park and Bundle wildlife sanctuary and the Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary. The memorandum also said the diversion would have a massive impact on the “life and culture” of Goa.
“The information given to the Goa chief minister by the Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar stating that the letter issued to Karnataka is kept in abeyance needs to be examined cautiously. This can be another act by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to mislead the people of Goa,” Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat told reporters.
“The MoEF should also come clean on what happened with the committee which he was supposed to form to investigate about the said letter illegally issued to Karnataka?” Kamat added.
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