MARGAO: With Karnataka Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai cocking a snook at Goa by saying it cannot stop Karnataka from going ahead with the Mhadei diversion to build canals in Karnataka, grassroots activists in Goa have given a call to step up their agitation.
While giving a clarion call to keep up the fight they alleged that the Mhadei water diversion is not for people, but for the proposed steel industries in Karnataka.
On Monday, a crucial meeting was held at Margao, wherein several social activists across Goa, besides like-minded people, expressed hope that the Goa government can still fight a legal battle to stop the Karnataka government from taking away the Mhadei water.
Social activists Abhijit Prabhudesai and Diana Tavares explained in detail regarding the Mhadei dispute, including the plans of the Karnataka government related to diversion.
Citing different documents, they claimed that the purpose of diverting the Mhadei River stated by the Karnataka government is a total lie. Water is not for agriculture, drinking, and hydroelectricity projects, but for proposed steel industries in Karnataka.
People wanted the government of Goa to file a review petition before the Mhadei Tribunal and bring to the notice of the court what has been hidden by the Karnataka government.
At the meeting, Abhijit Prabhudesai said that through their investigation, they found that the diversion of Mhadei River is linked to the Sagarmala project of the Central government, besides coal transportation.
“A website of the Karnataka government shows that they have planned for the proposed steel corridor and they are pushing hard for steel industries for which they need huge quantities of water,” he claimed.
He said out of four districts mentioned by the Karnataka government, where the water will be supplied, two are the areas where big steel industries are going to be built in the coming days and those industries cannot function without water,” said Prabhudesai.
“The farmers of Karnataka too are misguided by their government and hence we need to create awareness amongst them too,” he added.
Social activists have alleged that the governments of Goa and Karnataka are continuously lying on the Mhadei issue; however, the fight is not between Goa and Karnataka, but between corporates.
Activists also believe that the Karnataka government will divert all water from Mhadei if not stopped now.
The activists questioned: “Why is the Karnataka government pushing for steel industries if they are in shortage of water? Why no white paper on the purposes for which they are asking for water?”
They appealed to the Goans to unite to fight for Mhadei keeping aside their political affiliations.
They opined that a review petition can be filed as per the provisions of law and hence the urgent need to pressurise the Goa government in this regard.
“Biodiversity will be lost as three wildlife sanctuaries are dependent on the Mhadei River. The government is playing a game with Goans,” activists alleged.
At the meeting issues such as draft CZMP and coal expansion and transportation projects were also discussed and the meeting resolved to challenge the same.