Bengaluru: Criticising the Central government’s announcement in the Budget 2023-24 of Rs 5,300 crore assistance to Karnataka for irrigation purposes, Goa Forward MLA Vijai Sardesai on Thursday said “it furthers the cause of (Karnataka) stealing water from neighbouring states”.
“During the Budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced a grant of Rs 5,300 crore for the ‘Upper Bhadra’ irrigation project in Karnataka. Such financial outlays made for the state are furthering the cause of Karnataka stealing water from neighbouring states including from Krishna basin and Mhadei basin and using it for sugarcane production. I condemn this… it is a gimmick to garner votes,” Sardesai, former deputy Chief Minister of Goa, said, referring to the upcoming Assembly elections in the neighbouring state.
“This was done to win (Lok Sabha) seats in Karnataka. The BJP will suffer in Goa for this attitude,” Sardesai said.
“There is a feeling among people… and also one cartoon has gone viral that for the Central government, Karnataka is ‘tick’ and Goa is ‘cross’, and for Goa’s Chief Minister, his chair is ‘Tick’ and (protecting) Mhadei is ‘Cross’,” Sardesai said mentioning to viral cartoon.
He objected to the act of Karnataka stating they are taking water for irrigation purposes, though the demand was for potable use.
“Water which is demanded for drinking purposes by Karnataka is actually for irrigation to grow sugarcane by depriving the people of Goa of water. There are 28 MPs in Karnataka… Goa has a non-functional double-engine government which doesn’t even speak about the aspirations of the people of Goa,” he said.
The Goa Forward Party has been attacking the Pramod Sawant-led BJP government in the coastal state ever since the Central Water Commission has granted permission to the detailed project report of Karnataka for the disputed ‘Kalasa-Bhanduri’ dam.
Goa and Karnataka are currently battling out a dispute over the ‘Kalasa-Bhanduri’ dam project across the water of Mhadei river at a central tribunal.
Mhadei originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji. While the river traverses 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is 81.2 km in length in Goa.
Karnataka plans to construct dams on the river, aimed at diverting the water into its water-starved Malaprabha basin in the northern region.