Bengaluru: The agitation seeking an early verdict by the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal on the implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala diversion project and for linking the Mahadayi with the Malaprabha is picking up pace with farmers’ organisations and politicians from the North Karnataka region joining the farmers at Nargund in Gadag district.
On Monday, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested Congress leaders from Karnataka to get their party colleagues in Goa and Maharashtra to agree to an out-of-court solution to the long-pending Kalasa Banduri project.
Receiving an all-party delegation from Karnataka, led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, at his official residence, the prime minister categorically said the Centre was ready to find early solutions to the issue, but it needed consensus of all parties of the three states.
The prime minister heard the delegation for over an hour, as all 52 members — leaders from all parties — spoke for a few minutes.
Leaders, including Siddaramaiah, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress), BJP State president Pralhad Joshi, former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil, Irrigation Minister M B Patil, State Congress leader Veeranna Mattikatti, BJP leaders Jagadish Shettar and K S Eshwarappa, and JD(S) leader H D Revanna and Basavaraj Horatti explained the drinking water problem in northern Karnataka and the ongoing agitation.
CM appeals that people should remain clam
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday appealed to the people to remain calm stating that his government is committed to finding a solution to the Kalasa-Banduri project at the earliest.
Siddaramaiah’s assurance comes following the agitation in three districts of North Karnataka, demanding immediate implementation of the drinking water project. The CM said, "People of the three districts should maintain peace and not take the law into their hands."
"The state government is making all efforts to find an amicable solution to the Mahadayi river water-sharing dispute with the riparian states of Goa and Maharashtra", he added.
Eshwarappa hits back on Siddaramaiah
At the same time, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council K.S. Eshwarappa also went by Modi's request and demanded that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah invite Congress leaders in Maharashtra and Goa for talks on implementation of Kalasa-Banduri project and on evolving a solution for the dispute regarding sharing Mahadayi river water.
As Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Maharashtra and Goa, the Karnataka State unit of the party will shoulder the responsibility of bringing the Chief Ministers of both the States to talks. The onus is on Mr. Siddaramaiah now to ensure that, Congress that is in opposition there doesn’t use the dispute for political gains and thereby complicate the issue, he told press persons here on Tuesday.
People from Naragund, Navalgund, Gadag and Hubballi-Dharwad have been on an agitation for several days demanding an immediate solution to their drinking water problems in the region.
The protesters on Monday set on fire, three state-owned buses venting their ire against the delay in implementing the project.
The dispute over sharing of Mahadayi river waters had been referred to a tribunal headed by Justice J B Panchal, following Goa’s opposition to Karnataka’s efforts to divert 7.56 tmcft from Mayadayi to Malaprabha to solve the drinking water crisis in North Karnataka.
The tribunal, which was established in 2010, is likely to hold its first meeting in November to hear the positions of the three riparian states.
Realising that the dispute is likely to drag on for several years, the people of the region want the central and state governments to reach an out-of-the court settlement.
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