The ongoing row between Goa and Karnataka over sharing of the Mahadayi river water seems to be escalating with Goa Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma writing to his Karnataka counterpart over the “ongoing work” on a river tributary canal at Kankumbi which, he said is the “violation” of the Supreme Court order.
“Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma has written a letter to his Karnataka counterpart pointing out to the violations of the SC directives by a resumption of the work on a canal at the Mahadayi tributary (at Kankumbi village),” Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told PTI last evening in Canacona.
Karnataka and Goa, the riparian states of the Mahadayi river (known as Mandovi in Goa), have been locked in a bitter battle on sharing of the river water, which originates in Belagavi in the southern state. The matter is pending before the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal. “I don’t have the exact contents of the letter with me right now. But we have told Karnataka that they are violating the directives of the apex court on the issue and they should not do that,” he said.
Parrikar said his government would bring the “violation” to the notice of the supreme court. The apex court had stopped the construction of Karnataka’s canals and dams on the river. In recent years, the southern state has pegged its demand for Mahadayi water at 7.56 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) to meet the “drinking requirement” of farmers, mainly in North Karnataka.
However, Goa has expressed apprehension that Karnataka would stock more water in its reservoirs and channel it to the Malaprabha basin for irrigation use. “We will bring it to the notice of the (supreme) court that such a thing (work on the canal) is happening as it was a court order (which has been violated),” Parrikar said.
Goa Water Resources Department Minister Vinod Palyekar had sent a team for the inspection of the “fresh works” allegedly being carried out at Kankumbi by Karnataka last Friday. On January 13, the minister himself had visited the site along with the officials and upon his return to Panaji “confirmed” that Karnataka had “violated” the order of the apex court.
“The violations are happening at Kankumbi despite the SC ruling. I have told Karnataka through the media persons who were present during my trip there that they (Karnataka) should not misuse the letter written by Parrikar over the agreement to sit for bilateral talks on sharing water for drinking purpose,” Palyekar said Saturday.
He was referring to the letter written by Parrikar last month to Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa agreeing for the bilateral talks on sharing the Mahadayi river water for drinking purpose. “Mhadei (another spelling for Mahadayi) is our identity and we will not allow Karnataka to destroy our identity. I have warned the state (Karnataka) not to play dirty politics with Goa, not to violate the court orders. Goa government will not tolerate,” Palyekar said.
He said a team of Water Resources Department (WRD) officials will monitor the situation at Kalsa canal every week. The minister said the evidence of the “violation” has been recorded by the Goa team, which will be submitted to the Tribunal during the next hearing slated on February 6. “The complete contempt by Karnataka comes at the time when Goa’s case is strong. Nevertheless, we have collected evidence of their violation which will be submitted to the Tribunal. We will fight till the end,” he added.
Parrikar’s letter to Yeddyurappa, bypassing Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who is a constitutional authority, is viewed as a political gambit by the BJP ahead of the assembly polls in the Congress-ruled state this year. The politically-sensitive Mahadayi issue is crucial mainly in north Karnataka.