Congress, BJP spar in Karnataka over Mahadayi water row

Congress, BJP spar in Karnataka over Mahadayi water row
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Bengaluru: Karnataka’s ruling Congress and the opposition BJP on Tuesday blamed each other on the deadlock over getting Mahadayi river water from neighbouring Goa to the four drought-hit districts in the state’s northern region.

Even as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the inter-state dispute, BJP’s state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa said the state Congress leaders should convince their Goan leaders to allow their Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to settle the issue amicably.

“As Parrikar has agreed to discuss the issue with Karnataka, Siddaramaiah should ensure his party’s leaders in Goa do not oppose releasing the river water for the drinking needs of the people in the northern districts of our state,” Yeddyurappa told reporters here.

The 77km-long Mahadayi or Mandovi river originates at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in Belagavi district of north-west Karnataka and flows into the neighbouring Goa and eventually joins the Arabian Sea.

Though the river flows runs 29km in Karnataka and 52km in Goa, its catchment area is spread over 2,032km in the southern state as against 1,580km in Goa.

Karnataka has been asking Goa since 2001 to release 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of the river water to meet the drinking needs of its people in Hubballi-Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkote and Belagavi districts and irrigating their farmlands.

Karnataka plans to build two canals at Kalasa and Banduri, which are the tributaries of the river in the state, to divert and supply the water to the four districts.

The Mahaydai Water Disputes Tribunal, headed by Justice J.N. Panchal, on July 28, 2016 rejected the state’s petition for releasing the river water, citing various grounds, including ecological damage the twin canal projects may cause.

With the state assembly election due in April-May 2018, BJP’s National President Amit Shah prevailed upon Parrikar to consider releasing the water on humanitarian grounds and boost the party’s poll prospects in the state.

Softening his stand, Parrikar wrote to Yeddyurappa on December 21 that he was open to discuss the issue with his Karnataka counterpart and allow the state to draw a certain quantity of water from the river to meet the needs of its people.

“Parrikar should have written the letter to me to or our government and not to Yeddyurappa, who is a BJP lawmaker,” Siddaramaiah told reporters at Hubballi, about 410km from here.

Meanwhile, farmers’ organisation in the region has called for a dawn-t-dusk shutdown in the four affected districts of Bagalkote, Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadad on Wednesday in protest against the failure of the ruling Congress and the BJP in resolving the issue.

About 500 farmers, including women and children, who have been staging a protest demo at the BJP’s state unit office in the city since Monday, have threatened to intensify their agitation if the issue was not resolved soon.

IANS