Friday 19 July 2024

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Issues | Mhadei

Decision to resolve Mhadei issue amicably


Goa and Karnataka have once again decided to resolve the inter-state water dispute amicably while the southern state continues to invent new proposals of diverting water of river Mhadei, which joins the Arabian sea in Goa as river Mandovi.

A decision in this regard was taken at a joint meeting of Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar and his Karnataka counterpart S M Krishna in Bangalore yesterday, which was also attended by local irrigation minister Ramakant Khalap.

According to official spokesman, both the chief ministers admitted of having considerable discrepancies in the facts and figures quoted from both the sides on the issue of diversion of Mhadei river waters. The irrigation department officials have thus decided to jointly collect the data and discuss it, before going ahead with any plans.

Mhadei, which merges into the Arabian sea as river Mandovi in Panaji, traverses a distance of 28.8 kms in Karnataka and 81.2 kms in Goa. Its total catchment area is estimated at 2032 sq kms, out of which 1580 sq kms lies in Goa and the rest in Karnataka.

The unilateral multi-crore plan of Karnataka is to build seven dams on the river and four diversion dams at different tributaries, diverting 255 million cubic metres of water from Mhadei to Malprabha basis for irrigation in Belgaum as well as parts of Bijapur and Dharwar districts. It also envisages 457 MW of hydroelectric power generation with three different power houses.

Based on a comprehensive environment impact assessment report prepared by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in September 1997, Karnataka claims that Goa would not be affected but benefited with this multi-crore project.

The panel of experts appointed by the Goa government however has given a totally divergent opinion, pointing out that it would disrupt entire Goa's ecological balance with drying up of river Mandovi, which is considered to be the lifeline of the tourist state.

If diverted, the impact would not only be on the human settlements in terms of irrigation and drinking water, but the wroughton freetailed beds and the tiger belt – considered next to Sundarban – would also be submerged while also affecting 5000-year old traditional silt-based agriculture prevalent here in 50 villages, point out the environmentalists.

Convenor of the Mhadei Bachao Andolan Nirmala Sawant, who is also the newly appointed local Congress president, is still worried since Karnataka recently went ahead with a new diversion plan while both states had decided in January this year to resolve the issue amicably. Following the CM, she also plans to meet Krishna as well as party president Sonia Gandhi over the issue.

The recent plan is to build a dam at Nersa by blocking two major nullahs and diverting water to Malprabha. Situated at barely 25 kms from Goa's north-eastern boundary along the Belgaum road, Nersa is part of the proposed Bhimgarh sanctuary and covers a rich forest and agricultural belt of the area.

The new plan, incidentally, is also opposed by seven villages around Nersa, forming Nersa Parisar Saurakshan Samiti, with the help of Belgaum Nature Lovers' Club, a group of environmentalists who unearthed sinister designs of the Karnataka authorities.

By building the dam at Nersa between two hills, where two major nullahs of Bandura and Sangarhole meet, the Karnataka government plans to divert the water back to a tributary of Malprabha river by constructing a 300-foot wide and 45-foot deep canal.

The proposed plan would submerge at least 1200 acres of land, including 475 acres of agricultural land having cultivation of sugarcane, groundnut and paddy. Though the habitation would be left out, the residents in and around Nersa would be left high and dry, having no other option but to migrate. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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