The three-decade-old Mahadayi water dispute is in limelight again. Among the three states involved in the conflict – Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra – the first two have hardened their stance in recent months, with their political leaders making some controversial statement or the other. Goa, on Monday, filed its arguments before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal maintaining it could not share water with Karnataka due to diversions of river water violating court orders, and potential damage to marine ecology, environment and wildlife. As per media reports, Goa said in its objections that it was opposed to the proposed projects by Karnataka and Maharashtra around the Mahadayi as they would harm the environment and deprive the coastal state of drinking and irrigation water.
The three states are locked in a protracted dispute over sharing Mahadayi waters for the last 30 years. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985. As per a report by The Indian Express, the dispute reached a flashpoint in 2002 when the then Karnataka government led by chief minister S M Krishna decided to implement a long pending drinking water project by building a canal across two tributaries of the Mahadayi – Kalasa and Banduri. The project aimed to divert 7.56 TMC of water from the Mahadayi to the Malaprabha river in Karnataka to address the drinking water needs in three parched north Karnataka districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
On December 20 this year, Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa and other leaders met Goa CM Manohar Parrikar in the presence of party chief Amit Shah in Delhi over the river water sharing issue after which Parrikar softened his stand saying that giving water to Karnataka for its drinking needs was never an issue, but the proposed construction of dams by the latter to divert water is the bone of contention and that he has no issues in giving 0.1 TMC of the river’s water.
Reportedly, Goa government will also file a contempt petition before the Supreme Court and the Mahadeyi Water Dispute Tribunal against Karnataka for allegedly resuming work on a canal at Kankumbi on a Mahadeyi tributary “in violation” of the apex court order. Notably, last year, the apex court had ordered Karnataka to stop work on the construction of the canal at Kankumbi, which was aimed at diverting water from the Mahadeyi tributary.