PM accused of being partial on Mhadei

| 08 August 2002 23:11 IST

Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been accused of being partial towards Karnataka for political gains while deciding upon the inter-state water dispute between Goa and the neighbouring southern state.

The opposition Congress here has pounced upon the PM for the eyewash action of replacing the union water resources secretary, but not keeping the objectionable letter he issued in abeyance.

B N Nawalawala, the union water resources secretary, had issued the 'in-principle' permission letter to Karnataka to divert 7.56 TMC water of river Mhadei, one day prior to his retirement in March this year. In the bargain, it was alleged that Nawalawala managed to get an extension in his service.

Goa PCC president Nirmala Sawant, who also heads the Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan here, feels that Nawalawa's replacement could be a mere eyewash as neither he was suspended for the illegal act of issuing such a letter nor his letter has been kept in abeyance till date.

The order of replacing Nawalawala with A K Goswami came soon after the all-party delegation from Goa met the prime minister last week, headed by Goa's BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar. The delegation had also demanded that Karnataka should not be allowed any kind of construction along the Mhadei river.

Mhadei, though originates in Karnataka, flows mainly through Goa to join the Arabian sea as river Mandovi. By diverting its water to river Malprabha, Karnataka plans to construct seven dams and three hydroelectric projects. If diverted, the whole of North Goa will dry up, having severe ecological and economic effect on the tourist state here.

Ms Sawant feels that inaction from the PMO is a clear indication that the central government is more worried about the strength of MPs in Karnataka compared to only two Goan MPs. Though admits that Karnataka is presently ruled by the Congress, she claims that almost all the political parties including the BJP is favouring water diversion there.

Dayanand Narvekar, another Congress leader and former irrigation minister, fears that Karnataka was in position to complete the work in this season itself to divert minimum two TMC of water, if the permission letter was not withdrawn immediately.

While the environmentalists here have also warned that diversion of water will destroy the western ghat in the coastal region, there has been anxiety as the southern state has already cut parts of the forest area and built around 50 metre long road in their region.

While dismissing the allegation, local BJP president Laxmikant Parsekar has accused the Congress of politicising the issue. The state unit however plans to persuade further action on the issue through party president Venkaiah Naidu, who is visiting the state tomorrow.

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