Millennium Post

Certain amount of Mahadayi water has been diverted: Sawant

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said "certain amount of the Mahadayi water has been diverted" despite the case of dispute with Karnataka over sharing the river water pending before the Supreme Court.

Sawant also said that a recent letter written by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to Karnataka over the river water issue has "no legal sanctity" as the apex court is already hearing the case.

Javadekar last week wrote to Karnataka, stating that environment clearance was not required for its Kalsa Bhanduri drinking water project on the Mahadayi river.

Goa and Karnataka are locked in a dispute over sharing of the Mahadayi river water, and the former has been opposing the Kalsa Bhanduri project.

"We have to admit that certain amount of Mahadayi river water has been diverted. We cannot deny that," Sawant said in an interview to 'Doordarshan' on Tuesday.

He said Goa has already challenged before the Supreme Court the order of Inter-State Water Dispute Tribunal which allowed Karnataka to divert certain amount of water.

"Union Minister Prakash Javadekar initially wrote a letter to Karnataka stating that environment clearance was not required for a project on the Mahadayi," he said recalling the communication written in the month of October.

"Later, we managed to keep the letter in abeyance. But once again, he wrote the letter to Karnataka," the chief minister said referring to the letter issued last week.

"The third letter has no legal sanctity as the dispute between the states on Mahadayi is already being heard by the Supreme Court," Sawant said, adding that his government will never compromise over the Mahadayi river water.

Asked about resumption of mining in Goa, Sawant said certain activity in the mining belt could resume soon after the state gets an approval for the policy to handle dumps (piles of low grade iron ore).

"Since the time I have taken over as chief minister,I have been following up the issue on a day-to-day basis.

Whatever we could do, we have done," he said.

Sawant said they have also petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to get political support on the issue, he said.

Goa has already filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, which will come up for hearing in January, he said.

"We want to find a solution for the issue. If something is not possible in the Supreme Court, then as per Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, we can form a mining corporation in the interest of Goan people," the chief minister said.

Ruling out the possibility of auctioning the mining leases, Sawant said, "Considering the existing land related issues, auctioning would cause delay in resumption of mining activity."

Mining came to a halt in Goa in March 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed 88 mining leases and banned extraction of fresh iron ore.

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