Panaji, Oct 24 (IANS) The Goa opposition on Thursday raised the pitch against Chief Minister Pramod Sawant a day after the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) granted an environment clearance to the controversial Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project over the Mhadei river in Karnataka.
Mhadei, or Mandovi, originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra. The river is known as the lifeline of northern Goa, reason why the state is opposing the Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project.
After the announcement of environment clearance by Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javdekar on Wednesday, Sawant first said he was not aware of the development, but later insisted that as Chief Minister he would not led down the interest of the state.
He threatened to challenge the environment clearance in the National Green Tribunal, saying Mhadei “is more than (a) mother to us”.
However, former deputy chief minister and Goa Forward Party President Vijai Sardesai reuked Sawant saying: “He has said Mhadei is more than the mother. In our puranas, it is said that mother is everything. In our spirituality, there is nothing above the mother.
“But the CM says it (Mhadei issue) is bigger than the mother. What is this? What is Vande Mataram about? I feel the CM needs to go back to the RSS shakha again.”
The Tribunal hearing the over two-decade old dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over Mhadei river water sharing had, in its award in August 2018, allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) from the Mhadei river basin (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka.
Maharashtra has been allotted 1.33 TMC. Both Karnataka and Goa have publicly expressed reservations about the Tribunal’s award and have also approached the Supreme Court for relief.
The Goa government in a petition to the Court has also accused Karnataka of “illegally” building infrastructure in its jurisdiction, to divert additional water from the Mhadei river basin.