BELAGAVI: The Goa government has desperately begun looking for “effective alternatives” to halt implementation of the Mahadayi project by Karnataka in wake of the verdict pronounced by Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal (MWDT) on Tuesday allocating 13.5 tmcft of Mahadayi river water to Karnataka.
In the latest development, Goa is learnt to be keen to invoke the Kasturirangan report and object to the Karnataka government from going ahead with the hydro-electric project on the Mahadayi river.
According to highly placed sources in Goa, Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni, who headed Goa’s legal team in the MWDT proceedings, has said the coastal state will have no option but to object to the hydel project as its magnitude will badly disturb the ecology of the Western Ghats and affect the state of Goa.
Outside of the tribunal’s scope, Goa may have to take the issue before the National Green Tribunal and challenge Karnataka’s move to set up the hydro-electric project as the Kasturirangan Report prohibits projects of such magnitude in the Western Ghats. Sources, quoting Nadkarni, said the Goa government will be filing a “disobedience application” in a day or two against Karnataka for having diverted Mahadayi waters even on the day the tribunal granting the award. “It is our case that Karnataka has already diverted the waters of Mahadayi and we will prove the case,” sources further said quoting Nadkarni.
The Goan legal team wants the government to keep strict tabs on activities being taken up by the Karnataka government on the ground in the Mahadayi basin. The tribunal verdict runs in 12 volumes and is being studied by the legal and technical teams in Goa. As per Goan legal team, the state government will initiate strict measures to protect the interest of that state after consulting all authorities and agencies concerned.
However, despite the fact that Karnataka government has achieved a victory in the Mahadayi issue, the Goan technical team continues to call the tribunal’s verdict as a ‘major victory’ for Goa. The total claim of Karnataka was 36.55 tmcft, which includes about 20.13 tmcft of diversion of water outside the basin. In a detailed award running into 2,711 pages, the tribunal allocated only 5.5 tmcft of water to Karnataka which includes 1.5 tmcft of water for in-basin consumptive use, to which Goa did not have any objection. The total diversion allowed for Karnataka is only 3.9 tmcft of water, so it is a major a major victory for Goa. This apart, Karnataka has not been allocated any water for consumptive use, claims the legal team according to sources.
The MWDT on Tuesday allotted 13.42 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of Mahadayi water to Karnataka, as against 36.55 tmcft it had demanded. Both Karnataka and Goa are involved in a dispute over sharing of Mahadayi water, which originates in Karnataka and snakes through several areas of northern Goa, including Panjim, before it flows in the Arabian Sea. While only a small part of its basin lies on Karnataka’s side, sources said, 80 per cent of its basin falls in Goa state.