Panaji: An all-party delegation from Goa led by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday met Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and submitted a memorandum urging him to withdraw his Ministry’s October 23 letter that approved the Karnataka government’s controversial Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project across Mhadei river.
Sawant was accompanied by Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai, Nationalist Congress Party MLA Churchill Alemao, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar, state BJP President Vinay Tendulkar and others.
Union Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, who is an MP from North Goa Lok Sabha constituency, was also present on the occasion.
Sawant said Javadekar has asked for 10 days to decide on the matter.
The Goa government has objected to the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ (MoEF) nod to the Rs 841-crore project that aims to divert additional water from the basin of the Mhadei, an inter-state river, into the deficit basin of Malaprabha river in Karnataka ostensibly for drinking water purposes.
The Goa government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court alleging illegalities in the water diversion project.
The Goa Opposition has called the MoEF nod “politically-driven”, with an eye on the upcoming bypolls to the state’s 15 Assembly constituencies.
Speaking to IANS from Delhi after the meeting, Kamat said the delegation had urged Javadekar to “immediately withdraw” the MoEF’s consent letter to Karnataka government’s Kalasa-Banduri project.
“I have urged him to ensure that no injustice is done to Goa. I want to make it crystal clear that we will fight till our last breathe to protect our lifeline Mhadei. Our agitation will continue across the state and we will lead the people’s movement to fight for Mhadei,” Kamat said.
Sawant maintained that the MoEF cannot take a unilateral decision on the project as the matter was subjudice.
He said if the Environment Ministry does not withdraw its go-ahead letter to the Karnataka government, his government would file an appeal before the National Green Tribunal or the Supreme Court.
The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.
An inter-state water disputes tribunal, set up by the Central government, after 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.