Karnataka: Cornered by the opposition on the statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah over Mhadei issue, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant during the Assembly session on Tuesday said that he has not given consent to divert Mhadei and will never give it.
In January, during a rally in Belagavi Shah had said, “Today, I am here to tell you that the BJP at the Centre has resolved the long dispute between Goa and Karnataka over Mhadei and allowed the diversion of Mhadei to Karnataka to satisfy the thirst of farmers of many districts.”
AAP MLA Cruz Silva, Goa Forward MLA Vijai Sardesai and Congress MLAs attacked Pramod Sawant over Shah’s statement questioning him whether whatever Union Minister said was correct or wrong, to which Sawant replied, “We have not given consent of Mhadei diversion and will never give it.”
Reacting to it Sardesai said, “This means the Chief Minister admits that the Union Home Minister has lied (to the public). This is what he said now.”
However, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant hastened to clarify that he didn’t say like that. “I have not said as such,” Sawant said.
Defending the state government’s decision over the Mhadei issue, Water Resource Minister Subhash Shirodkar said that they are fighting this case tooth and nail at every stage. “Whether it is at administration or judiciary level, we are taking all measures. A Mhadei related case is in the Supreme Court. Next hearing is in July,” Shirodkar said.
Shirodkar informed the House that Karnataka state council has made a clear cut commitment in the Supreme Court that no construction will be carried out (for water diversion). “This matter is sub-judice. Secondly, they have to take permission from various authorities, among one major is Wildlife Warden of Goa,” Shirodkar said.
To this, Sardesai said that the Detailed Project Report (of Karnataka) has stated that the Ministry of environment and forest and climate Change has issued exemption of environment clearance.
According to WRD Minister Subhash Shirodkar for drinking purposes environment clearances are not required.
However, further attacking the government Sardesai said that the Home Minister had spoken about (providing water to) farmers and not about drinking water.
When AAP MLA Cruz Silva questioned Shah’s statement, Shirodkar said during election time leaders may speak anything. “We don’t work by taking cognizance of such statements. We are working to protect Mhadei and oppose diversion,” Shirodkar said.
Cruz said that Karnataka has done violations and the activities are on the Karnataka side to lift water using pumps. “The Goa government wakes up only when the media brings violations to notice,” he said.
“We are so vigilant about this. After DPR was approved, we have written letters to around seven agencies to withdraw it and not to grant other permissions. Our chief wildlife warden has issued notice to MD of the Karnataka project agency. In the DPR it is mentioned that the installation of water pumps will create damage to the environment, flora and fauna,” Shirodkar said.
Goa and Karnataka are currently battling out a dispute over the Kalasa-Banduri dam project across the water of Mhadei river at a central tribunal.