Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday accused his Goa counterpart Manohar Parrikar and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa of trying to play out a ‘drama’ on the issue Mahadayi river water issue, keeping the coming assembly elections in mind. “…Parrikar and Yeddyurappa both tried to play out a drama for the sake of elections (due in Karnataka early next year),” he told reporters in Haveri.
He was responding to a question regarding Parrikar’s letter to Yeddyurappa on the inter-state river water issue after mediation by BJP national President Amit Shah.
Karnataka is seeking water from the river for meeting drinking water requirements in northern parts of the state where it has become an emotive political issue.
Parrikar, in a letter to Yeddyurappa on Thursday, had said, in principle, Goa would not oppose the “reasonable” and “justified” quantum of water meant to be utilised for drinking while pointing out that the matter is pending before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.
The Karnataka government which had expressed its readiness for talks at “any place and date” to work out an amicable settlement, however, took exception to Parrikar not following “protocol” by communicating his government’s stand to Yeddyurappa instead of his Karnataka counterpart.
Meanwhile, a group of protesters, including women from north Karnataka districts, have camped near the BJP state office here since yesterday demanding immediate resolution to the issue from Yeddyurappa who had last month promised to get a written agreement in this regard by December 15.
Commenting on the protest, Siddaramaiah said “Yeddyurappa is caught as he lied. He tried to play drama with farmers on the issue, and has now got caught.”
In Haveri, hitting back at Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa asked those protesting in front of BJP office to immediately vacate and agitate in front of the Chief Minister’s residence.
Pointing at Goa Congress leaders opposing the release of water, he said “go protest in front of Chief Minister’s residence. I as former Chief Minister and President of the party have made my honest efforts.”
Karnataka is seeking release of 7.56 tmcft water by Goa from the river 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 in the state’s northern region.
The project involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, tributaries of Mahadayi river, to divert this amount of water to the Malaprabha which meets drinking water needs of the region.
Goa had earlier expressed its opposition to the out of court settlement of the dispute, and had not responded positively for the proposed meeting of chief ministers.
Goa’s willingness to consider an amicable settlement to the issue now has come after Shah mediated a meeting between BJP leaders from Karnataka and the party ruled western state.
Besides Karnataka and Goa, Maharashtra is also a riparian state sharing the Mahadayi river waters.