Panaji, Dec 18 (IANS) Following a series of protests in Goa and the national capital on December 15, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests on Wednesday kept in abeyance its letter written in October this year, giving a green nod to Karnataka’s Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project.
In a letter written by the Union Ministry’s Mohit Saxena, Scientist in the Impact Assessment Division (MoEF), to the Chief Engineer of Karnataka Netravati Nigam Limited, the former said that the decision was taken in view of pending petitions related to the project by the Goa and Karnataka governments before the Ministry, as well as a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the Goa government against Karnataka before the Supreme Court, in which the latter had issued notice to the southern state.
“Based on facts made available subsequently to this Ministry it is observed that applications for clarification of the Award of the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal dated August 14, filed by the Governments of Goa and Karnataka are till pending,” the MoEF letter said.
“The Award has also been challenged by the states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra before the Supreme Court. In the SLP filed by the state of Goa, the Supreme Court has issued notice to the state of Karnataka,” it said.
Reacting to the development, the Congress has advocated caution, while also stating that withdrawal of the letter and not merely keeping it in abeyance was the best possible scenario for Goa.
“The information given to Goa Chief Minister by the Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar stating that the letter issued to Karnataka is kept in abeyance needs to be examined cautiously. This can be another act by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to mislead the people of Goa,” leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat told reporters in Panaji.
“The MoEF should also come clean on what happened with the committee which it was supposed to form to investigate about the said letter illegally issued to Karnataka,” Kamat said.
Goa and Karnataka are locked in a two decade-long inter-state dispute over the sharing of Mhadei river waters. The already vexed conflict between the two states, was further exacerbated when two months before the crucial Karnataka assembly bypolls, the MoEF gave a green nod to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Banduri dam project.
The Goa government is opposed to the project which aims to divert water from the Mhadei river basin to the deficit basin of the Malaprabha river, ostensibly for drinking water purposes.
The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.