Bengaluru: The Mahadayi River Water Tribunal on Tuesday ruled that Karnataka will get 13.5 TMC feet of water from the Mahadayi, thus putting an end to the 50-year-old water dispute with Goa, by giving an additional 5 TMC water to the southern state.
The tribunal has allocated 5.5 TMC feet water to the Mumbai-Karnataka region for drinking purposes, 8.2 TMC for power generation, 1.12 TMC and 2.18 TMC for Kalasa and Banduri streams, respectively.
In the 12-volume judgment, the tribunal allowed Goa and Maharashtra to use 24 TMC and 1.33 TMC of water, respectively.
The Tribunal further clarified that equal distribution of Mahadayi waters among the three states is "neither necessary nor feasible" at this stage.
Goa had maintained in its argument that its population heavily depends on the Mahadayi water and had also expressed fears that Karnataka would stock water to irrigate other regions of the state.
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar said the final verdict has done justice to Goa. "I am happy that the Mhadei Tribunal with its final verdict has done justice to Goa. I thank the legal team and everyone who have fought relentlessly for protecting our lifeline Mhadei," he tweeted.
The ruling pronounced by retired Justice JM Panchal in New Delhi was welcomed by the Mahadayi Horata Samithi, which has expressed satisfaction over the judgment, claiming that justice has finally been done to the people of Karnataka.
"In the absence of any apportionment of water amongst the party states, the activities related to water resources development for the benefit of the society must not stop and people of the party state must not suffer," the tribunal observed while passing the order.
The Mahadayi water issues have often led Goa and Karnataka to engage in a bitter battle of words while opposition BJP and ruling JDS-Congress combine in Karnataka have also been at loggerheads over the vexed dispute between Goa and Karnataka, in which Maharashtra is also a party.
After the three states failed to resolve the issue amicably, the matter was referred to a tribunal set up by the Congress-led UPA-2 in 2010. After hearing all three states, the tribunal on Tuesday pronounced its verdict.
Senior BJP leader and MP Shobha Karandlaje has also hailed the verdict and demanded that the Karnataka government takes up the irrigation projects in Mahadayi immediately.
Karnataka government is yet to react to the verdict.
Mahadayi was one of the key poll issues in the recent Karnataka Assembly elections, in which Congress and JDS had accused the BJP-led central government of not doing enough to resolve the crisis.
After the judgment, Hubli-Dharwad twin city and over 150 villages in the region are likely to get Mahadayi water for drinking.
WHAT IS THE MAHADAYI DISPUTE?
- Mahadayi river is known as Mandovi river in Goa. State capital Panaji lies on the banks of Mandovi, which is one of the smallest rivers in India.
- This rain-fed river originates at Bhimghad in Belgaum district of Karnataka. The first 35km of the river flows through Karnataka and the remaining 52km through Goa, before falling into the Arabian Sea. Bordering areas of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra depend on Mahadayi for their water needs.
- Renowned water expert, late SG Balekundri first planned the Mahadayi water diversion in 1970. The plan was to feed the Malaprabha river and store water in Navilatirtha dam in Karnataka's Dharwad district. This dam, built in the 1970s, has not been filled to its capacity, except three or four times.
- Karnataka had demanded 7.56 TMC feet of water from Mahadayi for its drinking water needs in the Mumbai-Karnataka region. It wants to build barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi. It can supply water to 180 villages and the Hubli-Dharwad twin cities.
- When S M Krishna was the Chief Minister of Karnataka, he started the work in 2002. The BJP government in Goa, led by CM Manohar Parrikar, had objected to it.
- The Goa government approached the Supreme Court, demanding cancellation of the project, citing ecological reasons.
- After all attempts at negotiation failed, the UPA-2 government constituted Mahadayi Water Disputes Redressal Tribunal in 2010. After the tribunal in its interim order rejected Karnataka’s plea for diverting 7.56 TMC Feet of water, there were violent protests across Mumbai-Karnataka region.
- Goa government claims that if Karnataka is allowed to divert the water, over 700 hectares of forest will be submerged in water and 60,000 trees will be cut.
- After the recent protests by local farmers, BJP Karnataka president B S Yeddyurappa rushed to New Delhi seeking an immediate solution. Amit Shah had convened a meeting of Parrikar and Yeddyurappa, but nothing came out of it as the Goa BJP government’s alliance partner Goa Forward Party had opposed to the negotiations with Karnataka.