21 Apr 2024  |   07:40am IST


Protecting Mother Mhadei is as much a part of Goa’s battle for identity as her language. Those fighting for Mother Mhadei and willing to go to any extent to prevent the unfair diversion of Mhadei waters to Karnataka feel that ruling governments in Goa have not walked that extra mile to ensure that the political and legal battle with Karnataka over Mhadei is not lost


PANJIM:  The Mhadei river water dispute between three riparian States is foaur decades old with Goa vehemently oppoasing Karnataka’s attempt to divert Mhadei waters into the Malaprabha basin.

In fact both the neighbouring States were ruled by the BJP governments, with a BJP government at the Centre but have been unable to settle the dispute even after the Inter-State Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal gave its verdict in August 2018, over the allocation of water.

It is presumed, with a lot of basis, that Karnataka has the support of the Union government, much to the discomfort of the BJP government in Goa. This was evident when the Central Water Commission (CWC) approved Karnataka’s revised Detailed Project Report (DPR) in December 2022.

But the government of Karnataka has once again stirred concerns in Goa by sending a letter requesting permission for the diversion of the Mhadei river, prompting preparations for renewed agitation to protect the lifeline of Goa.

Adv Hrudaynath Shirodkar, Convenor of the Saave Mhadei Save Goa movement charged that the BJP has been politicking the Mhadei issue since it came to power and that Goa has been made a scapegoat for its political gain. He also demanded that Union Minister of State for Tourism Shripad Naik should stick to his decision and resign from the Union Cabinet in protest against thae Centre’s decision to allow Karnataka to divert Mhadei waters.

Goa government is purposely not protesting that the wildlife in the Mhadei sanctuary would be adversely affected once the water is diverted.

Though demand was growing for the Goa government to ask the Centre to withdraw the revised DPR, the State constituted a 14-member study group to study Karnataka’s DPR and found several flaws in it.

A WRD official told 

O Heraldo that the State government has accepted the study group report and the government will now write to the Central Water Commission to withdraw the DPR.

On the other hand, Karnataka has already rejected the Goa government’s request for a joint inspection of the Kalasa dam project at Kankumbi because the matter was sub-judice.

Though the Mhadei Progressive River Authority for Welfare and Harmony (PRAWAH) has accepted the Goa government's request for a joint inspection of the Mhadei river basin, it is learnt that the visit is only for familiarisation of the Mhadei river basin.

Save Mhadei Save Goa convenor Adv Hrudaynath Shirodkar said, “Goa has failed politically because of the leaders whose political aspirations are different. In the process they failed to protect the interest of the State. We have to fight Mhadei battle. We might have lost politically but not legally,” said Adv Shirodkar.

Adv Shirodkar pointed out the State government failed to file a contempt of court petition when Karnataka started construction works of dams, canals and conduits.

Adv Bhavani Shankar Gadnis, who fought the Mhadei matter before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan (MBA) said that right from Day 1, Goa has been on back-foot. 

He said that in 2007, the then-Goa government surprisingly withdrew the original suit filed before the Apex Court and recommended to the Centre to refer the matter to the Tribunal.

Though the three States have challenged the Tribunal’s order, besides Goa filing two contempt petitions, none of these have come to light.

Mhadei Bachao Andolan (MBA) secretary Rajendra Kerkar said, “Goa’s legal team needs to expedite the Mhadei matter, but since the last two years its impact is not felt. It is also painful that legal teams from Karnataka are visiting Kankumbi and taking stock of the situation whereas Goa’s legal team has not visited there for a single day.


Idhar Udhar