Panaji: Karnataka has already started diverting water from the Mhadei river which would have otherwise flowed into Goa, its Water Resource Minister Vinod Palienkar said on Saturday and termed Kannadigas “harami” (illegitimate).
He later said that the abuse was uttered in the spur of the moment and requested the media to “expunge” the abusive word.
Briefing reporters shortly after he visited the water diversion site to Kankumbi region in north Karnataka, he also said that the neighbouring state was indulging in petty politics, while also underplaying the letter written by Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, where he promised to discuss sharing of drinking water on humanitarian grounds.
“I went with a team of Water Resource department officials to the site and saw that the work on the head regulator was on and the flow of water which comes to Goa was being stopped and diverted towards Karnataka. The photographs are clear. I have spoken to the Chief Minister and have given him the whole report,” Palienkar said.
He also said that he had taken police personnel along with him for protection during his visit to the site. “They are harami people. They can do anything.”
“I told reporters in Karnataka that their government is doing a dirty thing, by violating court orders. Karnataka is trying to destroy Goa’s identity by diverting the Mhadei water. We will not let them succeed.
“Our North Goa Collector has today (Saturday) itself written a strong letter to her Belgaum counterpart asking to stop all construction works going on in contravention of the orders of the tribunal as well as the Supreme Court,” Palienkar said.
Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are currently involved in a dispute in the tribunal over controversial Kalsa-Bhandura dam project across Mhadei river, through which Karnataka aims to divert water from the Mhadei basin to nearby basin on the Malaprabha river.
Mhadei, also known as the Mandovi river, is considered as a lifeline in the northern parts of the coastal state. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.
The river course is 28.8 km in Karnataka and over 50 km in Goa.
Parrikar’s letter to Yeddyurappa last month to discuss river water sharing for drinking purposes on humanitarian grounds had triggered popular protests in both Goa and Karnataka.