According to Goa Minister for solid waste management, Michael Lobo, the center has given a nod to the state of Karnataka to divert the water of Kalasa-Banduri for 'political reasons'.
The Goa minister's remarks come days after the Union Environment Ministry had sent a letter to Karnataka stating, "The scheme doesn't envisage creating new command area or providing water to suffering existing command areas for irrigation. Also, the project doesn't involve hydroelectric power generation [and] is purely a drinking water supply scheme and does not attract the provisions of the EIA notification 2006 and its subsequent amendments."
The Rs 800 crore diversion project will have to be constructed on the Mahadayi River. The construction will improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag. Furthermore, Lobo said, "one should not get distracted by such a letter, which could be issued to assuage the political situation in Karnataka" and added that there could be a fresh election in the state.
"The letter to the Karnataka government does not specify environmental clearance to the Kalsa-Bhandura project. Time and again such letters have been issued...Sometimes this type of letter is also given for political reasons," he stated while interacting with the media in Panaji, Goa.
"Everyone should understand that by-polls are scheduled in that state. There could also be fresh elections in the state. The political situation is not very good over there. But we should not get distracted by any letters issued to them."
The opposition parties in the coastal region have criticised the Central Government's move. The Congress party has condemned the Central government's decision to give environmental clearance to the 'illegal' Kalasa-Banduri Nala project which includes the diversion of Mahadayi water to Malprabha by constructing a canal through the thick forest region.
The three states of Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra have different and conflicting views on the issue of sharing the water of the Mahadayi River. The controversial Mahadayi river flows mainly in Karnataka, a major portion of it flows in the coastal region of Goa and a brief portion of it also flows in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has sought the release of 7.56 TMC feet water from the Mahadayi river for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. The state of Karnataka is going ahead with the Kalasa-Banduri Nala diversion project to improve the drinking water supply in Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag.
(With inputs from ANI)