Panaji, April 19: The Congress in Goa Saturday said it will ask its party’s government in neighbouring Karnataka to fall in line over a water dispute being heard by a central tribunal.
Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat told a press conference that the Karnataka government was defying a recent Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) decision to erect a wall across a canal, built to divert water from the Mhadei river to the Malaprabha basin in the state.
“Reports in the media show that work is still going on at the dam site, despite the order of the tribunal. We will speak to the Congress government in Karnataka and ask them to follow orders of the tribunal. The water of the Mhadei river is important for us,” Kamat said.
On Thursday, MWDT chairman J.M. Panchal, who is hearing the dispute between Karnataka and Goa over the Mhadei water, ordered the erection of a brick wall to stop diversion of water from the Mhadei river basin to the Malaprabha river basin, until the water dispute between both states is resolved.
The decision could come as a temporary setback to the Karnataka government’s plans to divert water from the Mhadei river basin and bring relief to Goa, for whom the Mhadei, also known as the Mandovi river, is a lifeline in the northern parts of the state.
The order directs Karnataka authorities to build the “brick masonry” wall by May 31, before the advent of the monsoon and stop all work on the project.
The Karnataka government’s dam is being erected on the Mhadei river in Kalsa area of Karnataka’s Belgaum district.
Kamat said the decision to speak to the ruling Congress in Delhi would be formalised at the state executive committee meeting due to be held Monday.
The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji. While the river travels 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is 81.2 km long in Goa.
Karnataka plans to construct seven dams on the river, aimed at diverting the water into its water-starved Malaprabha basin.
Both the Goa government and civil society groups in the state have said that diverting the water would sound the death knell for the northern areas of the state which are dependent on the river for fishing, irrigation and potable water supply.