Panaji: Taking on critics of his controversial letter to Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa over the Mhadei river interstate dispute, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said it is inevitable for Karnataka to get its share of the river water.
He added that those who think otherwise were living in a fool’s paradise.
While addressing a press conference at the State Secretariat in Panaji, Parrikar also said that Goa’s main contention at the ongoing Mhadei Water disputes Tribunal was that Karnataka could not divert water from the already-deficit Mhadei basin to the Malaprabha river basin, which was against law.
“If someone thinks that water cannot be taken by Karnataka, he is living in a fool’s paradise. He doesn’t understand law. (If) a river flows through Karnataka, how can you deny water to them? But they cannot take the water to some other area. They have to drink it or they have to use it in that area,” Parrikar told reporters.
Mhadei, also known as the Mandovi river, is termed as a lifeline in the northern parts of Goa. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea at Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through the territory of Maharashtra. While the river runs 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is 52 km in length in the state Goa.
The southern state has demanded that Goa should allow the transfer of over seven TMC water to the Malaprabha river basin to tide over its irrigation and drinking water needs.
In its case presented before the Tribunal, Parrikar said that the Goa government, along with documentary evidence, had argued that nearly 115 TMC (thousand million cubic-feet) water was available in the Mhadei basin, whereas the actual requirement of water in the basin in all three states, namely Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa is about 145 TMC.
“The river basin is negative on requirement. Therefore, water cannot be drawn from the river and taken to some other river. That is the point before the Tribunal,” Parrikar said.
Responding to criticism of his letter written in December to Yeddyurappa, where Parrikar had agreed “on humanitarian grounds” to consider the southern state’s demand for drinking water in North Karnataka, the Goa Chief Minister said that the critics were misinformed and that his letter had taken into account the interests of Goa.
“If you (critics) try to speculate out of my letter, that is not my concern. I am sorry. I am very clear about this, that I have written a perfectly valid letter in the interest of the State,” Parrikar said, while accusing the media of wrongly slandering him and the Goa government.
Parrikar’s letter has now triggered a divide in the state cabinet and has also resulted in protests across Karnataka, with Congress and BJP criticising each other for being unable to resolve the stand-off.
In his own cabinet, Parrikar now faces opposition, with Fisheries Minister Vinod Palienkar, who belongs to Goa Forward, a regional party, vehemently opposing Parrikar’s offer in the letter to Yeddyurappa.
Another ruling ally, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has also demanded a status quo on the dispute with Karnataka.
Asked to respond to an assurance given by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar, who while responding to a Zero Hour notice raised by Karnataka MP S.P. Muddahanumegowda, that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has already written to Yeddyurappa for outside negotiations to resolve the matter, Parrikar said: “Have I made a statement? If they bait each other what do I do? I am not responsible for demands someone else makes. I explained my stand to you clearly time and again.”