The statement of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant that he would not share Mahadayi waters with Karnataka has created a lot of interest among government circles and farmers groups.
Mr. Sawant tweeted that Goa will not share Mahadayi waters with Maharashtra and that he has made this clear on the floor of his Assembly several times.
This was in reaction to two allegations by Opposition leaders that the BJP government in Goa has compromised the State’s interest and is trying to tacitly help Karnataka in its claim over Mahadayi waters.
The former Chief Minister and Congress leader Digambar Kamat and the Goa Forward Party have sought the resignation of Mr. Sawant on the ground that he has instructed government senior counsel not to object to the notification of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal Award.
Mr. Kamat tweeted: “Who, why and what stopped Goa government from giving clear instructions to legal counsel to object to the notification of the award before the Supreme Court? It is loud and clear that the Goa government sold our lifeline, mother Mahadayi.”
Goa’s senior counsel Arvind Datar representing it before the Supreme Court told journalists last week that he did not object to the notification following instructions from the State government. However, in a written reply to the Assembly, Water Resources Minister F.N. Rodrigues claimed that counsel had not raised an objection on his own accord.
Mr. Sawant denied Mr. Datar’s statement that government instructions were issued in written format and said that counsel has not been given any such written instructions.
Goa is fighting two cases in the Supreme Court, one challenging the tribunal award and the other a contempt petition that said that Karnataka has begun diverting water from the Mahadayi basin, while the main petition is still pending.
Sidagouda Modagi, farmers leader, said that this shows the double standards that the Goa government is adapting on the Mahadayi issue. “On the one hand, it does not object to the tribunal award, while on the other, it says it will not share the water with us. Who are the Goa government leaders trying to fool?” he said.
Irrigation Department officials said that they are watching the events as they unfold. “The government is studying the statement of the Goa Chief Minister. We will react to it at the right time,” a senior officer in the Department of Water Resources said.
Major and Medium Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi said that he did not attach any importance to such statements. “We have a good legal team handling all such issues. We are confident that we will win all legal battles and implement the Mahadayi project,” he said.