Bengaluru: Goa, one of the three stakeholders in the almost four decade-old Mahadayi river water sharing dispute, filed its arguments before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal on Monday, maintaining it could not share water with Karnataka due to diversions of river water violating court orders, and potential damage to marine ecology, environment and wildlife.

In the Mahadayi (also known as Mandovi) river water dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the first two have hardened their stance in recent months, with their political leaders making controversial statements.

Goa said in its objections that it was opposed to the proposed projects by Karnataka and Maharashtra around the Mahadayi as they would harm the environment and deprive the coastal state of drinking and irrigation water.

On Sunday, Goa’s water resources minister Vinod Palyekar used derogatory terms against Kannadigas while addressing reporters in Goa, leading to protests, even though the minister asked the word to be expunged from media reports. He also alleged that Karnataka had violated court orders and was stopping flow of water towards Goa and diverting it to its own basins.

Last month, the Karnataka unit of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to claim at a campaign rally in Hubballi, about 400 km from Bengaluru, that it had resolved the crisis, hoping this would earn it favour in the northern part of Karnataka—home to around half of the state’s 224 assembly seats—ahead of the assembly elections. But the move did not sit well with farmers in the region, many of whom have been protesting for around three years now.

At the rally, the party’s chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa read out a letter from Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, in which he said he would not oppose the release of water for drinking purposes on humanitarian grounds. However, Parrikar made it clear in the letter that the discussion would be without prejudice to Goa’s rights before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government as well as the Janata Dal (Secular), led by former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, have asked for the centre’s intervention to resolve the dispute amicably.

The tribunal has also suggested that the chief ministers of the three states resolve the matter amicably. Siddaramaiah has written at least three letters to his counterparts in Goa and Maharashtra and offered to host meetings, but is yet to receive any response.

Karnataka seeks 7.56 tmcft of water from the Mahadayi to supply to 13 towns in four districts—Dharwad, Belagavi, Bagalkot and Gadag—in north Karnataka, one of the most arid regions in the country. The Mahadayi river originates in Karnataka and flows for around 35km in the state. Karnataka wants to build canals to link its tributaries—Kalasa and Banduri—to divert water to the Malaprabha river basin.

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