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Q. Mahadayi (Mandovi) river water dispute: In the backdrop of recent rejection of Karnataka’s petition seeking 7 tmcft of water from Mahadayi river by the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT), discuss the Mahadayi/Mandovi river water dipute in detail.
Jul 30, 2016 Related to : GS Paper- 2

Ans :

Issue-

Recently the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) rejected Karnataka’s petition seeking 7 tmc of water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. It is an interim order and part of a larger dispute around the sharing of waters in the Mahadayi river between Karnataka and Goa.

Introduction-

Mahadayi (Called as Mandovi in Goa), is west-flowing river in the Western Ghats, originates in Deagaon village, Belagavi district of Karnataka. The river flows about 35 km in Karnataka and goes through Maharashtra and Goa (about 82km) before meeting the Arabian Sea.

River water dispute-

  • The sharing of the waters of this river is a cause of dispute between the governments of Karnataka and Goa.
  • In 2002, the Karnataka government proposes to divert 7tmcft water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha river basin as part of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project, as approximately 200 tmc feet of water flows into the Arabian Sea now without being used for anything.
  • Goa opposed the project, saying it will affect environment and biodiversity.
  • In 2010, following Goa’s plea the Mahadayi River water tribunal was formed. The Mahadayi Water Tribunal has to decide on the sharing of this river's waters between Karnataka and Goa.

Interim order of tribunal-

  • The tribunal rejected Karnataka’s proposal of diverting 7 tmcft water through Kalasa-Banduri Nala project citing various reasons.
  • Tribunal ruled that, allowing water to be transferred for the project would be ecologically damaging and upset the natural equilibrium of Mahadayi river.
  • Also tribunal said that, Karnataka hadn’t shown what would be the downstream effects at 3 km and 5 km of lifting the river and so relief couldn’t be granted.
  • Tribunal raised concern that the Karnataka government had also not obtained environmental and wildlife clearances to execute the project.

Impact-

  • Normally Karnataka faces shortage of water regularly, this year Karnataka has faced one of the worst droughts.
  • The project which was aimed at providing drinking water to four districts of northern Karnataka will be stalled, and people from those areas continue to suffer from shortage of drinking water.
  • Following the interim verdict of the tribunal, various organisations in Karnataka have called for massive protest. Now this sensitive issue has become political tool in the hands of politicians.

Suggestion-

  • Every year, more than 200 tmc ft of water is being drained into the Arabian Sea from Mahadayi river. Hence Karnataka and Goa needs to settle this issue amicably.
  • Similarly central government should intervene to settle the issue and find amicable solution to issue of drinking water, without affecting natural biodiversity of the area.

Conclusion-

River water disputes are quite normal in India since Independence. Being a sensitive issue, it became political tool in the hands of politicians. Hence there is an urgent need to find amicable solution to such river water disputes without politicising the issue.


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