Union Minister Javadekar said that the Kalasa-Banduri project can begin only after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the matter.

Will intensify protests until PM intervenes in Kalasa-Banduri project Karnataka farmers Representation photo
news Protest Friday, December 27, 2019 - 14:19

The farmers of northern Karnataka have begun protesting against the Central government demanding that the Kalasa-Banduri project’s construction begin immediately. The protests took place in Belagavi’s Balihongal and Nargund on Thursday and another one is slated to take place at Belagavi on Saturday.

Vijay Kulkarni, the farmer-activist, who began the movement for constructing the Kalasa-Banduri project is spearheading a fresh round of protests from Saturday. Speaking to TNM, Vijay Kulkarni says that the farmers from 13 taluks in the four districts of Mumbai Karnataka – Belagavi, Gadag, Bagalakote and Vijayapura will continue protests until Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervenes and settles the matter.

The project proposes to divert the Mahadayi River (also known as Mandovi) from Kalasa and Banduri canals into the Malaprabha River. The Goa government has been opposed to the construction of these canals. On August 14, 2018, the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal awarded Karnataka 13.5 TMC water while Goa got 24 TMC. Unhappy with the tribunal’s order, the Goa government approached the Supreme Court in the same month, stating that diverting the water to the two canals would not be in the interests of the state.  

Read: Confused about the Mahadayi dispute between K'taka and Goa? Here's a simple explainer

“There is a BJP government in Karnataka, the Centre and in Goa. Prime Minister Modi must intervene and settle this matter. BJP promised people that the project would start if we voted for them. Why are they sending ambiguous messages now?” Vijay Kulkarni questioned.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai had written to Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar earlier in December after the Centre had withheld the environment clearance for the project.

In October 2019, the Centre had given environment clearance for the project. But on December 18, the Environment Ministry sent a letter to the Karnataka government stating that the clearance was kept in abeyance.

Read: ‘Mahadayi has been a long struggle for us, will try to get justice’: Karnataka CM

Minister Basavaraj Bommai had written to Prakash Javadekar a day later seeking clarification.

On Tuesday, Javadekar sent another letter to Bommai."Karnataka can start work on the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project after the gazette notification of the tribunal, and necessary forest and wildlife permission. I hope this will dispel all doubts. the Union government has not kept in abeyance EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) notification 2006 and has also not kept in abeyance the rule, which clarifies that the drinking water project does not require environmental clearance."

Disputing the Union Minister’s claims, the farmer-activist argues that the Kalasa Banduri project requires an environment clearance because its purpose is for drinking water and also irrigation.

"The Centre is playing a game of cat and mouse. They should come clean on this issue and settle the matter," said Vijay.  

However, on Friday, Javadekar said that the Kalasa-Banduri project can begin only after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on appeals filed by both the Karnataka and Goa governments.

Vijay Kulkarni said that the farmers will hold protests at every public hearing of BJP Union Ministers from Karnataka – Pralhad Joshi and Suresh Angadi until the matter is resolved.

“We elected and sent two Union Ministers to Delhi so that they can fight for our local issues. What are they doing up there? These letters sent by the MoEF is ambiguous and an eye-wash. We will hold protests wherever Suresh Angadi and Pralhad Joshi hold public meetings or whichever public event they go to. The Prime Minister must intervene. We have already started protests, we will only intensify them if our demands are not met,” he said. 

Read: Mahadayi Dispute: Karnataka to get additional 5.5 TMC water from Goa share

Read: All you need to know about calls for a separate North Karnataka state


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