Using an expletive for the people of Karnataka, Goa Water Minister Vinod Palienkar on Saturday accused the neighbouring state of stopping the flow of water in Mahadeyi river, which comes to Goa, and diverting it towards Karnataka. On his return from the area where Goa claims the neighbouring state is constructing a canal on a tributary of the Mahadeyi, the minister said he has photographs of the site, which the Goa government plans to share with the Mahadeyi Water Tribunal, where the contentious river water-sharing issue is being heard.
Palienkar also confirmed that the Manohar Parrikar government in Goa has taken up the issue with Karnataka after finding work on canals is going strong. The area in Karnataka is close to state’s boundary with Goa. Referring to Kannadigas, Palienkar said that they “cannot be trusted”, as they have “already started diverting water from the Mahadeyi, which otherwise nourishes Goa”.
The minister also said he took a police cordon with him for site inspection. “They are harami people. They can do anything,” he added. Palienkar, who was speaking to reporters shortly after his visit to Karnataka, later admitted that he had used the word “harami” at the spur of the moment.
“I went with a team of the Water Resource department to the site and saw that work on the head regulator was on, and flow of water which comes to Goa was being stopped and diverted towards Karnataka,” he said. “The photographs are clear. I have spoken to the Chief MInister (Parrikar) and have given him the report.” He also accused Karnataka government of playing “dirty politics”.
“Karnataka is trying to destroy Goa’s identity by diverting Mahadeyi water. We will not let them succeed,” Palienkar said. He said his ministry will write soon, and that the office of North Goa collector has issued a “strong letter” to Belgaum collector (in Karnataka) to stop the work.
The river water-sharing is an old dispute between the two states, and is a very important issue in parched Belgaum and other areas of north Karnataka. Parrikar had recently written to the BJP state unit chief of election-bound Karnataka, stating that Goa will not oppose “in principle” sharing water with Karnataka for drinking purposes.