DIVERTED: Already the damage is done with the building of the Kalsa dam which has affected Chorla waterfalls and rivers. Now Narendra Modi seems to have promised to bully Goa into giving permission to divert a substantial amount of water from the Mhadei
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
For the BJP, what matters is being the samrat of the whole country. Victory in Karnataka is more important than the fatal consequences of the diversion of the Mhadei river. Now Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have joined Manohar Parrikar in offering the natural resources of Goa to Karnataka in their crusade to get enough seats to form the government in the State
The BJP will do anything to win elections. Even sell the family jewels of one of the States if it suits their interest. Everyone in the BJP, whether it is the prime minister or Nitin Gadkari, or their chief minister nominee for Karnataka, Yeddyurappa, known for the diversion of the Mhadei, will kill Goa. Already, because of the construction of the Kalsa canal, some dams have dried up and the water levels have fallen sharply. The next victim could be Opa Water Works which supplies drinking water to Ponda, the whole of Bardez, and most importantly, the capital city Panjim. But the BJP’s single point agenda as of today, is to win the Karnataka election scheduled for May 11.
In fact my brand new maid of one week just gave me notice that she will be away for three days to vote for BJP in Karnataka. She has received an offer of a train ticket for every member of her family who has a voter ID in Karnataka, plus `10,000 per vote if they vote for the BJP. But why blame the poor maid servants, our Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar himself was willing to give away of the large share of Mhadei water to Karnataka.
On Friday, prime minister Narendra Modi assured farmers in Belgaum/Belgavi that the BJP would resolve the Mhadei water dispute if the party comes to power. The parrot, or the remote control, depending on how you see BJP party president Amit Shah, addressing another public rally the next day, declared ‘bring Yeddyurappa to power and within six months the Mhadei water dispute will be solved’. Amit Shah blamed the Congress government in Karnataka for not doing enough to resolve the issue.
The context behind this promise is a letter written more than six months ago by the then perfectly-well Manohar Parrikar, not to the Karnataka chief minister who belongs to the Congress, but to the BJP state president, Yeddyurappa, offering 17.2 TMC waters.
Fortunately for Goa, former advocate general Atmaram Nadkarni got a stay from the Supreme Court and convinced the Mhadei Tribunal that for drinking purposes Karnataka did not need more than 1.2 TMC. The former attorney general pointed out that the real objective of Karnataka was to divert the water from the Mhadei basin to the Malaprabha basin which was banned under the Water Management Act. Apparently Karnataka has wasted all its water resources, encouraging the growth of water guzzling sugarcane at the expense of other crops. Since Parrikar could not deliver on the directives of Modi and Shah on giving Mhadei more water to help the BJP win elections, now both the prime minister and the national party president have promise to solve the problems of Karnataka even it means killing Goa. After all who cares for Goa which has only two seats in Parliament? Perhaps Parrikar if he had been in Goa and active would have at least protested. But the toothless advisory committee has not said a word of protest against the prime minister’s promise to Karnataka and the step-motherly treatment being given to Goa.
Narendra Modi went to the extent of claiming that during a 2000 Goa Assembly campaign speech Sonia Gandhi had assured Goa that the Mhadei river water will not be shared. The counter question post by Siddaramaiah, current Karnataka chief
minister, is that Modi has been prime minister for four years — what has stopped him from solving the problem?
The Karnataka government is in trouble not just with Goa, but with the Tamil Nadu government as well. The Karnataka government has a water sharing agreement on the Kaveri river which originates in Karnataka and ends with Tamil Nadu.
At the final hearing at the end of two decades of arguments, the Supreme Court had directed the Karnataka government to provide a larger share of the Kaveri waters to Tamil Nadu for its paddy crop. The Karnataka government has failed to implement the directives of the Supreme Court. On the contrary, Kannadigas have started targeting properties of the predominantly Tamil residents of Karnataka’s capital, Bengaluru.
It is obvious that Karnataka will go to any extent, including violence, to satisfy their greed for water. What is of course shocking is that neither Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward nor Sudin Dhavalikar of the MGP has made a single statement protesting against the assurances of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.
Vijai Sardesai has claimed that the statement should not be taken seriously as it is just a political tamasha. Is it political tamasha on Vijai Sardesai, who is already under attack for selling Goa’s paddy fields and orchards, to keep silent over the threat to the Mandovi river which is completely dependent on the Mhadei river? Or maybe Vijai Sardesai believes that Goa will not need any water when his plans for vertical Goa become reality and he has converted all the villages into towns. Never mind that vertical Goa will house more migrants than Goans, who will all need water to survive.
Ironically, Vijai Sardesai is also minister for agriculture who will probably promote roof top gardens when the Mhadei water runs out. The Water Dispute Tribunal has made it very clear that no more water can be diverted from the Mhadei to the Malaprabha basin and that the ecology of Goa will be destroyed if the Mhadei is diverted by building a series of dams and canals as Karnataka proposed to do.
Without the Mhadei there will be no Dudsagar Falls. The Surla falls have already dried up. The government will have no choice but to move the casinos to land, perhaps near Mopa, as the Mandovi will have no water to host them. Similarly, just as Dharward and Hubli face serious drinking water problems now, the whole of Goa will be parched.
Goa may go the way of Cape Town in South Africa where test matches were held between India and South Africa in January. The water shortage was so acute that Indian players were told that, like the locals, they could not use the shower for more than two minutes and could used only toilet paper for their ablutions. If the Mhadei is diverted, tourists will also have to stop coming to Goa unless the tourism department permits only tourists who bring their own water to come into the State.