BENGALURU : Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said that the Centre has given environmental approval for the Kalasa-Banduri (or Bandura) drinking water project in Karnataka, offering some relief to chief minister B.S.Yediyurappa who has been battling criticism of his government’s handling of one of the worst floods to hit the state in over a century.

“On the follow up of my cabinet colleague @JoshiPralhad, Kalasa Banduri drinking water project in #Karnataka has been granted Environmental Approval," Javedekar posted on Twitter.

The project proposes to divert water Mahadayi river (also known as Mandovi) from Kalasa and Banduri canals into the Malaprabha river. The project aims to facilitate drinking water 13 towns of Dharwad, Belagavi, Bagalkote and Gadag that is part of the northern parts of Karnataka that is home to the second most arid regions in the country after Rajasthan.

"The Environment Ministry has given its nod to the Kalasa Banduri project, almost paving the way for its completion," the Press Trust of India reported, quoting Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yediyurappa.

The approval could give Yediyurappa’s three month old government something to cheer about as most of its time in power has been consumed by reports of its poaching of opposition legislators, infighting, the waning influence of the chief minister and the handling--or mishandling--of the floods in the state. Incidentally, the northern parts of Karnataka, among other parts of the state has witnessed wide scale devastation due to heavy rains and resulting floods that has claimed over 100 human lives in Karnataka since August and hundreds more in other states like Kerala, Maharashtra and Bihar, among other places.

The announcement is also likely to calm the anger of the states population towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government that is accused of providing inadequate financial assistance for flood relief.

Calamity prone Karnataka has been hit with repeated droughts and floods destroying around 10 lakh hectares of crops this year alone. Consecutive droughts and acute drinking water shortages has also been a big problem for the Karnataka, an upper riparian state.

Both Mahadayi and Cauvery river water issues are sensitive in Karnataka and political parties have long since tried to resolve the disputes with neighbouring states to reap rich political dividends.

Mahadayi is the lifeline of Goa and has been resisting any diversion as it would hurt the fragile ecosystem of the coastal state.

The decision not going down well with Goa Forward Party.

“SHOCKED and OUTRAGED. This is no drinking water project. This is ‘Kill Mahadayi River’ project. A plan we, as a party and as partners in Govt, fought tooth and nail. The diversion of water from Mahadayi is inexcusable, unjustified and an affront to all goemkars," the Goa Forward Party posted on Twitter.

The Mahadayi river, that originates in Karnataka, has been a big bone of contention between Goa and Maharashtra and successive governments have not been able to resolve this even when the same party has been in power in two or more states.

“There’s no better way to kill Goa’s flora and fauna than to build on Mahadayi and divert water. Something the former CM #parrikar realised as dangerous. What is the current CMs stand? Goa and Goemkars who love Mahadayi as their own mother are waiting for an answer!," the party said.

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