Panaji: Goa Minister Nilesh Cabral on Monday refuted a statement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the Mhadei river water dispute with Karnataka had been resolved in favour of the southern state and also backed Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
The two states have been engaged in a tussle over the sharing of water of the river for several years now and Goa has often accused Karnataka of proceeding unilaterally by ignoring pacts. Both states have Bharatiya Janata Party governments.
Addressing the BJP’s ‘Jana Sankalp Yatre’ in Belagavi in Karnataka on Saturday, Shah said, “I want to tell you (people) that BJP, by resolving the long-standing dispute between both states, has given Mhadei water to Karnataka and, thereby, ensured farmers in several districts here are benefited.”
Speaking to reporters here, Cabral said, “Our CM has not given any consent to divert Mhadei river water. I know he (Sawant) will never do it. I don’t know what Union Home Minister Amit Shah is talking about.”
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He said a delegation from the state will ask about this statement when they next meet Shah.
When queried on whether he condemned what Shah said, Cabral asserted, “Of course, I condemn the statement. We are not against usage of the water within the basin but we will never allow the water to be diverted outside.”
Cabral further said if the (Bharatiya Janata Party) central leadership does not support Goa on the Mhadei issue, then the state can take legal recourse to stop the diversion.
The award given by the Inter State Water Dispute Tribunal on Mhadei was for the purpose of “drinking water”, Cabral, who is Public Works Department minister in the Sawant cabinet, said.
“I don’t know from where this statement (of Shah) comes which speaks about water to be diverted for irrigation purpose,” he added.
Cabral said the delegation from Goa had gone to meet Shah some weeks ago as the Union home minister is the authority to solve disputes between two states as per the Constitution.
Goa has two options, one of which is the central leadership (of the BJP), and if they fail to listen, then the state can fight on legally, Cabral asserted.