09 Aug 2022  |   06:43am IST

Mhadei, once again!

Karnataka has renewed the Mhadei related feud with Goa once again. Despite all the opposition and legal battles, it is becoming clear as day that the neighbouring State is still adamant on Kalasa-Bhanduri and Haltara projects.

The ill intentions of Karnataka were exposed by environmentalist Rajendra Kerkar, who gathered loads of evidence from his constant visits to the controversial sites. 

The government had stated that teams of the Water Resources Department were monitoring the site covertly. The government is answerable as to why the information extracted by Kerkar could not be done by the Goa government officials? If the government is hiding any information from the public then that is even more unforgivable. 

The Karnataka government has been trying to divert the Mhadei's water into Malprabha to bring alive the dying river. The intention behind this is to supply water to Dharwad, Hubli and other nearby districts of Karnataka, a move that was and has always been constantly objected by Goa.

Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal has banned the diversion of water from Mhadei to Malprabha through an interim order, which has apparently safeguarded Mhadei's waters. But the issue is not restricted only to diversion of water. Mhadei is Goa's lifeline.

The river also supports the huge biodiversity in Sattari and parts of Karnataka. The river originates from the mountains of Degao in Shiroli-Hemmadaga village in Khanapur, Belgaum. The tributary Ola-Pansira adds to the chilly waters of Mhadei. The river then flows to the Gavali village where it crosses with Bhandura nullah at Nerse village. The river Bail is then originated in the form of Ambeshi spring at Chikhale, eventually falling as Dhonlo waterfall.

There is also a proposal to construct a dam on Bail river. There is a stream at Aamgao that flows to its fullest capacity during monsoon. However it is totally dry during the summer. 

Mhadei flowing along the Bhimgad reaches Krishnapur and then goes ahead at Kadval and Bondir. From Sonal, Savordem, Khadaki, Guleli, Ganjem in Sattari, it reaches Usgao and is known as Mandovi from there on. The river is facing many environmental challenges as of today. 

Dam and power projects in Karnataka are trying to confine the river Mhadei. Kalsa is a tributary of Mhadei, and the flora and fauna from Mhadei valley is fed by the river. 

The water from Mhadei will be diverted via Kalsa and Bhandura projects into Malprabha. Malaprabha is regarded as Mhadei's sister. Mhadei's tributary Kalsa and Malprabha have their origin at same place. 

They begin their journey at Rameshwar temple near Kankumbi, and one goes west as Kalsa nullah and other goes east as Malaprabha river. Kalsa nullah dives into the Arabian Sea via Mhadei and Malaprabha moves into the Bay of Bengal via Krishna river. 

Now, Malaprabha has completely dried up. Karnataka is contemplating diverting the water via Kalsa-Bhandura nullah to quench the thirst of Dharwad, Hubli and other cities. Goa has strongly objected to this action by Karnataka. With neighbouring State playing dirty games for water, the fight for Mhadei is going to get murkier.

It is unfortunate that when the country is about to celebrate its 75th Independence Day and takes pride in its democratic values, here we have a situation where two neighbouring States within the same country are at war with each other over sharing of river water. Ironically both the States and the Centre have the same political party in power. 

If the Goa government continues to remain in slumber then the day is not far when Karnataka will take away every drop of Mhadei water under its nose. It is high time that Sawant administration gets its act together before it is too late.


Iddhar Udhar