In a hardening of stands in the Mahadayi river water dispute, BJP-ruled Goa has described Congress-ruled Karnataka’s contentions as a “bogey of completely incorrect statements”. In a written submission to the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal, Goa has opposed 12 projects proposed by Karnataka in the Western Ghats, saying the latter’s demand for water is not for drinking but actually for irrigating its sugarcane crop areas.
“The requirements of the State of Karnataka in the Malaprabha reservoir as also the drinking water requirements in the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad area is a bogey of completely incorrect statements and the whole exercise, proposed by the State of Karnataka is aimed at sustaining the manifold increase as well as further increasing and encouraging the cultivation of the water guzzling sugarcane crop area,” Goa submitted.
Senior counsel Atmaram Nadkarni, representing Goa, told The Indian Express the submissions showed evidence of sugarcane cultivation having gone up in the region and that the water was also being diverted to soft drink industries that had factories in the area.
In recent years, Karnataka has pegged its demand for Mahadayi water at 7.56 thousand million cubic feet per annum to meet the “drinking requirement” of farmers in North Karnataka. “Under the guise of drinking water, Karnataka has been asking for water which it has been diverting to sugarcane cultivation,” said Nadkarni. “Goa has no issues providing drinking water to people within the basin but many of these areas are outside the basin area.”
The submission states: “Most of the water from Karnataka’s Navilutirtha reservoir on Malaprabha is utlised for irrigation, including water guzzling crops like sugarcane, in its upper reaches. Assuming without in any manner admitting that there is any water scarcity in Hubli-Dharwad region, then the same is due to the deliberate usage of water from the Malaprabha Basin (which was earmarked for drinking water purpose) for the purpose of irrigating the cash crops.”
The submission stated the 12 projects proposed by Karnataka, and eight by Maharashtra, would affect the “basic minimum drinking water requirement” of Goa in months other than November-May and the people of Goa will be “deprived” of drinking water requirements.
It said Karnataka and Maharashtra do not “have any right, authority or power to divert the waters of River Mahadayi outside the River Basin, without the concurrence of State of Goa”. It claimed the two states have opposed relief sought by Goa on “frivolous grounds.”
Goa sought a direction to the two states “by way of a permanent injunction, to forthwith stop implementation / construction of all or any projects” on the Mahadayi or its tributaries. It asked the tribunal to direct the states to demolish all works built to divert waters of the Mahadayi. “It is the case of state of Goa that without demolition of the canals and dams built or under construction, the monsoon flows will be reduced thereby resulting in scarcity of water downstream with devastating consequences,” the submission stated.
It asked the tribunal “to determine the true and correct principles applicable for equitable use of waters from the Mahadayi river basin and issue appropriate directions in that regard”.