Goa denies having talks with Karnataka over Mhadei water

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Panaji : Months after Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's pre-election overtures to Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, expressing willingness to work out an amicable settlement to the Mhadei river water issue, Goa's Water Resources Minister Vinod Palienkar told the state assembly that no agreement or negotiation has taken place with the neighbouring state.

"The government of Goa has not agreed or has not negotiated with the state of Karnataka on sharing the water of Mhadei river," Palienkar said in a written reply tabled during the ongoing monsoon session of the Goa Legislative Assembly.

In the run-up to the recent Karnataka state assembly polls, Parrikar in a letter to Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s chief ministerial candidate had said: "Government of Goa is willing to consider the request to work out an amicable settlement strictly restricted to drinking water only to the drought-prone areas."

The comment had triggered a furore in Goa, with the opposition accusing Parrikar of selling out the interests of the state for political purposes, even as Parrikar had maintained that those who believed that Goa would not have to share the Mhadei river water with Karnataka, were living in "fool's paradise".

BJP national President Amit Shah, while campaigning in Karnataka, had also promised to divert the Mhadei river water to Karnataka six months after polls results were elected, if the BJP won the assembly election.

Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are currently battling a dispute over the controversial Kalsa-Bhandura Dam project across the Mhadei river at a central tribunal.

Mhadei also known as the Mandovi river, is known as a lifeline in the northern parts of the State. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through the territory of Maharashtra. While 78 per cent of the basin of the Mhadei river lies in Goa, 42.79 per cent of the basin is located in Karnataka and a small portion comes under Maharashtra.

Karnataka also aims to build seven dams at various points along the river, including at Kalsa village, with an objective to divert the flow into what it claims is the water-starved Malaprabha basin in north Karnataka. The state has demanded that Goa allow the transfer of over seven TMC water to tide over its irrigation and drinking water needs.

Diversion of the water was one of key issues in the north Karnataka region during the recently concluded assembly election.

On Wednesday, the Goa government claimed that Karnataka had removed two out of the three blockades on water diversion conduits built illegally by the Karnataka government along the Mhadei river, and that the water is already being diverted from the Mhadei river to the Malaprabha river basin in the southern state.