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Karnataka budget to allot funds for drinking water project

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Bolstered by the Supreme Court’s interim nod for the gazette notification of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal award by the Central government, Karnataka decided to allot funds for the drinking water project in the state’s northwest region, an official said on Saturday.

“Funds will be allotted in the state budget for fiscal 2020-21 to complete the Kalasa-Banduri project across the Mahadayi river for supplying drinking water to the four drought-prone northern districts in the state,” the official of the water resources department told IANS on anonymity.

As Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa also holds the finance portfolio, he has agreed to allocate funds for the project, held up for years in the legal battle with the neighbouring Goa and Maharashtra over the sharing of the river water among the three coastal states.

Yediyurappa is slated to present the state budget for the ensuing fiscal in the legislative assembly on March 2.

“We will resume the project work once the Centre notifies the award though it will be binding on the final outcome of the apex court’s hearing the review petitions of Goa and Maharashtra against the Tribunal award,” the official noted.

A division bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta on Thursday passed an interim order on the Tribunal award, allowing the central water resources ministry to notify it for implementation and posted the case for final hearing in July.

The Tribunal on August 14, 2018 allocated 13.42 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of the river water to the southern state for irrigation and drinking water supply to towns and villages across Bagalkot, Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag districts, which are in the arid region of the Deccan plateau.

The four districts are about 400-550 km northwest of Bengaluru in the southern state.

Of the 13.42 tmcft water, 5.5 tmcft will be used in the river basin and for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha reservoir while the balance 7.92 tmcft will be utilized for hydel power generation instead of allowing the water to go into the Arabian Sea on the state’s west coast through Goa.

Goa, which opposed Karnataka’s demand for 36.66 tmcft, was allocated 24 tmcft, while Maharashtra got 1.3 tmcft.

The Tribunal assessed that 188.06 tmc feet water is available at 75 per cent dependability.

The three-member Tribunal is headed by Chairman Justice J.M. Panchal, Justice Viney Mittal and Justice P.S. Narayana.

The Union government had set up the inter-state Tribunal on November 16, 2010 for the adjudication of the Mahadayi basin water allocation among the three riparian and contiguous states.

Goa and Maharashtra claimed 122.6 tmc feet and 6.35 tmc feet of the river water respectively.

The Tribunal, which commenced sittings on September 6, 2012, held 1,209 sittings for over 6 years.

Supreme Court senior counsel F.S. Nariman represented the state before the Tribunal to present its case.

The Tribunal’s chairman and two members inspected the river basin area across the three coastal states from December 12-24, 2013.

The 77km-long Mahadayi or Mandovi river originates at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in Belagavi district and flows into the neighbouring Goa through Maharashtra and joins the Arabian Sea off the west coast.

Though the river flows 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa, its catchment area is spread over 2,032 km in the southern state as against 1,580 km in the western state (Goa).

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