BELAGAVI: Karnataka’s relentless struggle for its share of Mahadayi water met with partial success on Tuesday with the tribunal set up to resolve the inter-state dispute awarding 13.5 tmcft of water to the state. The Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal headed by Justice J M Panchal in its final award allowed Karnataka to draw 5.5 tmcft of water from Mahadayi river for drinking purpose and 8.02 tmcft for hydro-power generation.
Of the 5.5 tmcft allotted for drinking, 3.9 tmcft will be diverted to Malaprabha basin through Kalasa nala (1.18 tmcft) and Bandura nala (2.72 tmcft), while the rest for in-basin consumption in Khanapur region.
Karnataka was involved in a decades-long battle with neighbouring Goa demanding 36.55 tmcft, including 7.56 tmcft for drinking water purpose. Opposition BJP and the ruling JDS-Congress combine in Karnataka too have been at loggerheads over the vexed issue. For a long time, the state government had been struggling to find an out-of-court settlement with Goa and Maharashtra.
While many leaders and people hailed the order, which will help overcome drinking water scarcity in North Karnataka, sources said the government is mulling moving the Supreme Court for a higher share.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was guarded in his response. He said the verdict has provided some relief for Karnataka, but added he will react after consulting the legal team. His Goan counterpart Manohar Parrikar said, “I am happy that the Tribunal has done justice to Goa. I thank everyone who have fought for protecting our lifeline Mhadei.”
Deputy CM G Parameshwara said, “The state will consider filing a review petition after wider discussion.”
BJP state chief B S Yeddyurappa said, “I am happy with the verdict. It has brought smiles to farmers and protesters. The good thing is that we can go to SC seeking more water.”
Though the farmers have welcomed the verdict, they are upset that it makes no mention about share in agriculture.
Speaking to TNIE, M B Zirli, member of state’s legal team which argued the case before the tribunal, said, “It’s a victory for Karnataka. Goa government handled the case immaturely as though it is a property dispute and indulged in needless rivalry with Karnataka. We are both neighbours and needed to share water that we required to fulfil our needs. Goa is neither utilising Mahadayi water nor allowing us to utilise some amount of it.’’
As a legal team, he said, “We have partly succeeded in attaining the pressing needs of Karnataka by scoring a first victory. It’s a 12-volume judgment. We need to study it before taking the next step. However, we contemplate moving the SC demanding our entire share of water under the project and even approach the tribunal seeking clarification about some issues related to the verdict,’’ he added. The state’s legal team has criticised Goa for misleading the tribunal by contending that Mahadayi basin had 90 tmcft while the tribunal clarified it was 188 tmcft.
On several occasions, the Goan top bureaucrats and ministers alleged that Karnataka government was illegally diverting water from Kalasa nala and strayed into the project site at Kankumbi breaking the protocol. In the end, Karnataka has been able to achieve a victory, it added. Calling the tribunal’s decision as totally satisfactory for Karnataka, Kannada leader Ashok Chandargi has said the verdict is a setback for Goa which had vowed not to release even a drop of Mahadayi water to Karnataka.
“Although the tribunal awarded 5.5 tmcft against 7.56 tmcft demanded by Karnataka for drinking, it will help a great deal in overcoming water crisis in the 13 taluks falling under four districts of Mumbai-Karnataka.”