Interim order to stop Mhadei diversion, setback to Karnataka

VISHANT VAZE, BICHOLIM | 17 April 2014 21:36 IST

The Mhadei Water Tribunal today passed an interim order directing Karnataka government to construct concrete bunds in the canals in order to stop any diversion of Mhadei water to Malprabha river.

The tribunal headed by Justice J M Panchal has also ordered that Mhadei water should be completely blocked from getting diverted to Malprabha river.

The Karnataka government has to construct these canals by 31 May.

A three-member team comprising of superintendent engineers from Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra would monitor the work of bund construction and report to the tribunal.

The water diversion plan would be shelved till the case is fully heard by the Tribunal, said Justice Panchal.

The illegal attempt of Karnataka government to construct canals from Kankumbi in order to divert Mhadei water to Malprabha river was opposed by the Goa government before the Mhadei Water Tribunal.

Karnataka government has constructed a canal at Kalsa-Bhandura to divert Haltar rivulet of Mhadei River to Malprabha River in Kankumbi.

The illegal work had started in 2006 and almost 80 per cent of the work is being already completed, in violation of orders delivered even by the Karnataka high court.

While appreciating Goa’s Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni for arguing the case vigorously before the Tribunal, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said Karnataka government was trying to hoodwink the judges by arguing that Goa government had initially not opposed the illegal work of Karnataka government.

He was obviously referring to the stand taken by the erstwhile Congress government during Digambar Kamat’s regime.

AG Nadkarni described the order as a first major victory while stating that all the points in the case have been kept open for further arguments.

Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan convenor Nirmala Sawant however raised a caution that Karnataka government is bound to use new tactics to continue with its work and not to construct the bunds, thus Goa needs to be alert throughout.

She also felt that the final order may take place at least five more years and Karnataka government may play some other tricks to try and divert the water.  

MBA secretary and Goa’s leading environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar also raised a voice of caution, stating that Goa now needs to strengthen its arguments rather than celebrating the temporary victory.

Ramesh Gawas, another environmentalist, said this is a first step towards the victory while giving its credit to Kerkar as well as the forest officials, who ultimately compelled Goa government to take a firm stand before the Tribunal.

The Karnataka presently plans to divert only 7.5 TMC water via Kalsa canal, but has more plans to divert rest of the water that may dry up the whole river Mandovi, the lifeline of Goa.

Mhadei originates in Karnataka, but flows more in Goa and is called river Mandovi once it crosses Sattari.

The life of seven talukas - Sattari, Bicholim, Ponda, Dharbandora, part of Sanguem, Bardez and Tiswadi is fully dependent on this river.

Goa covers 1580 sq kms of the catchment area of Mhadei basin while Karnataka covers only 375 sq kms.

It also includes 76 sq kms of catchment area in Maharashtra.

Karnataka plans to construct at least seven dams and three hydroelectric projects, by diverting the water to river Malprabha.

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Previous Comments

Great news for Goa and Goans.

First hurdle of stopping Karnataka diverting the waters, has been crossed but there are many more hurdles to cross to win this race for our very survival.

It is like an ant fighting against an elephant

Now, efforts need to be doubled to put a permanent stop for Karnataka diverting waters of our life line, Mandovi.

With natural justice on our side, we should win this case.

All those involved in making our case strong deserve appreciations.

- Francisco Lourenco, Goa | 19 th April 2014 05:33

 

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