Nawalawala out, tribunal of Mhadei asssured

| 06 August 2002 23:12 IST

The long-drawn out inter-state water dispute of river Mhadei between Karnataka and Goa is now expected to be resolved by constituting a judicial tribunal on the issue as the central government has replaced the controversial secretary of the union water resources ministry.

While making an announcement in this regard in the House yesterday, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said the newly appointed water resources secretary A K Goswami has given a firm assurance in this regard.

Goswami has been appointed in place of controversial secretary B N Nawalawala, whose ouster was demanded by the all-party delegation of Goa that met prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as union water resources minister Arjun Charan Sethi last week.

One day prior to his retirement in March this year, Nawalawala had issued a letter to Karnataka, giving in-principle clearance for diversion of Mhadei water partially for the purpose of drinking water in Dharwar and Hubli.

Based on this letter, the Karnataka government had however moved to the NTPC, seeking permission to set up a hydroelectric project while the water dispute issue is still not decided. In the bargain, Nawalawala had managed to get extension.

The controversial secretary is now being appointed as the advisor to the union water resources ministry.

According to Parrikar, Goswami has also assured to keep the order of in-principle clearance in abeyance till the tribunal resolves the matter.

Mhadei originates in the forests of Karnataka but flows mainly through Goa to join the Arabian sea as river Mandovi. Karnataka however plans to construct at least seven dams and three hydroelectric projects, by diverting the water to river Malprabha.

The official figures indicate that Goa covers the catchment area of 1580 sq kms of the Mhadei basin while Karnataka covers only 375 sq kms. It also includes 76 sq kms of catchment area, which falls in Maharashtra.

Unlike Karnataka, Parrikar claims that Goa has prepared a master plan for use of Mhadei water, including generation of hydroelectric power to the tune of 100 MW. He also informed the House that the state will need around 2674 million cubic metres of water by 2005, but the existing water availability is only 1531 million cubic metres.

Meanwhile, the Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan has here started mobilising public opinion by organising public meetings even in villages across Goa border, in the hilly regions of Karnataka, which will be equally affected with water diversion.

The young artists of Sattari, belonging to the Vivekanand Kala Manch, have also started street play campaign in villages while several panchayats as well as organisations have started writing to the centre, urging the authorities not to allow water diversion.

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