Mhadei river issue flares up again! Buses to Karnataka suspended

Many places in Northern Karnataka saw protests erupting on Wednesday, 27th July. They were mainly due to the decision taken  by the Mhadei Water disputes tribunal, which favoured Goa. The decision has prohibited Karnataka from diverting 7.56 TMC into the Malaprabha basin from the Mhadei river until further notice.

Following these developments the Goa government has barred the State-owned Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited (KTCL) from plying their buses to Karnataka for two days as a precautionary measure.

“The suspension is for the state of Karnataka only, and not for Goa. We have won the Mhadei dispute issue on Wednesday. The Karnataka government should solve its problem. Though bus operators here are ready to go to Karnataka, but I have ordered them not to go there for two days. Right now there are no bus services for Karnataka,”  said  Goa Minister for Transport, Ramkrishna Dhavlikar.

Disruption of traffic

Soon after the decision was announced social media in Goa was abuzz asking Goans to avoid traveling to Karnataka’s districts of Dharwad and Belgavi. The two districts serve as important trade centres for Goa. Many cities and towns in Northern Karanataka are also passenger destinations.

Mhadei river water dispute

Karnataka’s quest for water began in 1980 when people from Navalgund and Naragund taluka began agitating. The people demanded for water from  their government. Violence during the agitation cost four lives. This included two policemen.  Eventually it became the issue it is today.

Former Chief Minister, Pratapsingh Rane in the 1980’s signed an MoU with the then Chief Minister of Karnataka S. R. Bommai, over sharing of water from Mhadei river. It was decided to give 45 tmc ft of water from Mhadei river to Karnataka. A power station was also supposed to be created upstream. Electricity generated at the station would be shared with Goa.

The plan never came to fruition because the  Bommai government collapsed within no time. During subsequent years, the project was renamed ‘Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project’. Goa opposed any such plan on Mhadei River because of the impact it would have on the ecology over a period of time.

Current argument

Karnataka Government has stated that 7 TMC of water is required to be diverted to the Malprabha basin from the Mhadei river, mainly to solve the water problems of drought prone areas of of Belagavi and Dharwad districts.

The Goa Government has however argued that water in lakhs of litres was being released from the same Malprabha basin to a Pepsico unit in Dharwad, on a daily basis. The issue is currently being heard by the Delhi-based Mhadei Water disputes tribunal. The next hearing is scheduled for July 30.


Image caption – The Mhadei river during low tides.

Photo credit – Harvinder from Chandigarh

Source – Wikipedia

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