Bengaluru: Days after the Mahadayi Water Tribunal suggested that the chief ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa should resolve their dispute over the sharing of Mahadayi river water amicably, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has offered to host the first round of talks.
Siddaramaiah has requested the chief secretaries of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka to finalise a date for a meeting of the chief ministers within this month.
Karnataka will have to engage all the stakeholders in the Mahadayi dispute to ensure drinking water to the northern parts of the state. The state had observed a ‘bandh’ or general strike on 30 July after the tribunal rejected its petition seeking 7.56 tmc of water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala drinking water project.
Pro-Karnataka organisations have called for another bandh on 9 September to protest the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
On Monday, the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs per day for the next 10 days to Tamil Nadu, leading to widespread protests in several parts of the state.
Karnataka, the first state to declare a drought last year, is staring at another this year and will look to extract water from all possible sources amid growing agitation among farmers hit by a shortage of drinking water and deficient rainfall.
Siddaramaiah has also said he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his intervention in Mahadayi dispute.
The Mahadayi river (called Mandovi in Goa) flows for around 30 km in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Karnataka wants to build canals to link its tributaries—Kalasa and Banduri—to divert water to the Malaprabha river basin. Goa has opposed this on the basis that it would be harmful to the ecology in the Western Ghats.
The northern regions of Karnataka—among the most arid in the country—need water to survive another year of deficient rains and a possible drought. The state government has already asked farmers to regulate the use of water for agriculture, especially for water-intensive crops like paddy and sugarcane as there has been a 40-50% deficiency in rainfall.