‘Nadda promised to stop letter exchange over Kalasa-Banduri’

Published: Jan 4, 2020, 9:11 am IST
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Panaji, Jan 4  BJP National Working President JP Nadda has assured the Goa party unit, that the ‘letter-writing’ between the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Karnataka government over the contentious Mhadei interstate water dispute issue will stop, Goa’s Ports Minister Michael Lobo said.

Lobo on Friday night also said that, the issue of the Mhadei river water diversion was discussed at a close-door meeting between BJP MLAs, top officials along with Nadda at a city hotel.

“He (Nadda) said, he is seized of the matter and the Chief Minister has spoken to him in Delhi on two occasions and he would put those letters to rest. That such type of letters are not issued (again),” Lobo said.

The state’s Ports minister also said, that during the meeting with Nadda, which lasted for around 45 mins, Goa’s Water Resources Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues spelled out Goa’s case in the ongoing flare-up with Karnataka over Mhadei river water.

“The Minister said that this issue of giving letters should stop, because the matter is before the Supreme Court and we have a strong case for the Mhadei. The decision should be as per SC and by giving such letters, we are only going to complivate the situation,” Lobo said, spelling out Rodrigues’ pitch to Nadda, who was in Goa to address a pro Citizenship Amendment Act rally in Panaji on Friday.

The two decade-long dispute over the waters of the Mhadei river, got a fresh twist last month, when the Prakash Javadekar-led MoEF wrote to Karnataka Home Minister Basvaraj Bommai, saying the Karnataka government could proceed with the controversial Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project after the 2018 award on the Mhadei interstate water dispute is formally notified by the Central Government.

The December 24 letter comes on the heels of a prior letter, which was issued by the MoEF to Karnataka giving a green nod to the same project.

The Goa government has opposed the project claiming diversion of water from the Mhadei basin would cause “ecological devastation” in the coastal state, where nearly half the population of 1.5 million depends on Mhadei river water.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has also said, that if needed the MoEF’s controversial letter would be challenged in Court, because the Kalasa-Banduri project was a sub judice matter, after the Goa government has objected to it in the Supreme Court.

Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik last month, had also chided the MoEF, saying the letter written by the central ministry to the Karnataka government was open to misinterpretation.

The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra. An interstate water disputes tribunal, set up by the central government, after hearing the over two-decade-old Mhadei river water sharing dispute among Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, in August 2018 allotted 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) to Karnataka and 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra.

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