Goa accuses Karnataka of illegally diverting river water

Panaji, Dec 21 (IANS) Goa has accused Karnataka of diverting waters from the Mhadei river into the depleted Malaprabha basin and has called a cabinet sub-committee meeting Monday to decide the future course of action on the issue, a state minister said Sunday.

The state government has already dispatched a fact-finding team to Karnataka to scour the Kankumbi region of Karnataka, where members of the Goa-based Mhadei Bachao Andolan (MBA) have accused Karnataka of constructing a large drain or canal to divert the river water.

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“We will apprise the Supreme Court of the illegal work being carried out by the Karnataka government, which is in direct violation of the central government’s directives in the Mhadei case,” Water Resources Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues said, adding that a more concrete strategy would be evolved at the cabinet sub-committee meeting Monday.

The committee which is headed by Rodrigues, also comprises of Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane, Transport Minister Sudhin Dhavalikar and Panchayat Minister Manohar Azgaonkar.

The Mhadei river, also known as the Mandovi in most parts of Goa, originates in a tiny hamlet called Degao and empties into the Arabian sea off Goa.

“Nearly 78 percent of the Mhadei’s basin lies downstream in Goa,” said MBA activist Rajendra Kerkar.

According to Kerkar, the diversion work undertaken by the Karnataka government was also in gross violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The main opposition party in Goa, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also voiced concern about the attempts made by Karnataka to divert the Mhadei waters.

“We have demanded a white paper on the Mhadei issue. All the facts need to be placed before the people by the government,” BJP spokesperson Damodar Naik said.

The cabinet sub-committee is expected to formalise the state government’s strategy on the Mhadei issue. The case is expected to come for hearing before the Supreme court Jan 15.