Forget the deal, return our water, Maharashtra tells Karnataka

first_imgMaharashtra will not sign a water-for-water agreement with Karnataka till it gets back over six thousand million cubic feet (6 tmcft) of pending supply from Karnataka which has only returned 0.078 tmcft of the total 6.787 tmcft diverted to it since 2016. The two States are now sparring over signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to exchange 4 tmcft of water on each side of the border on condition that Karnataka returns 10.787 tmcft at the end of the agreement period, senior officials said.The Water Resources Ministers of the two States have traded charges, blaming each other for the faltering deal. Karnataka Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar on Saturday termed the Maharashtra decision to cancel the MoU as “shocking”. “Earlier, based on our request, the Maharashtra government had agreed to release water after due payment. But now they have backtracked and are not releasing water into the Krishna river. This is an unexpected and shocking decision by the Maharashtra government, especially as it concerns drinking water,” he tweeted. He said Karnataka had paid money in lieu of water released from Maharashtra. “Even after 2016, we have paid most of the bills. Around ₹35 crore is pending now, for the release of around 5.35 tmcft of water,” he said.In response, his counterpart Girish Mahajan said unless the pending supply is fully returned, there is no question of signing a water deal. “They (Karnataka ministers and secretaries) are not even taking our calls, forget talking about the deal,” Mr. Mahajan had told reporters earlier.The MoU shows Maharashtra had plans to supply 4 tmcft from Koyna and Warna downstream of the Rajapur K.T. Weir. In return, Karnataka was to release 4 tmcft form Tubachi Babaleshwar Lift Irrigation Scheme (LIS) to be used in drought-prone areas of Jath taluka in Maharashtra and Vijaypur taluka in Karnataka. Senior officials said there was no question of taking payment for the pending water and the State would only sign the MoU once the pending supply is returned. “We don’t want money; we want our water back,” said an official. The MoU documents shows the two States disagreed on the point of ‘measure discharge’. “Since infrastructure is proposed to be created parallel to the existing Tubachi Babaleshwar LIS to cater to Maharashtra’s needs, there is no need to measure the discharge at the State border,” the Karnataka government wrote in response to the draft MoU. In its reply, Maharashtra said the MoU is as good as dead. “Karnataka has expressed its inability to lift 2 tmcft in the rabi season. In short, the Karnataka government has almost denied to make available 4 tmcft at the State border, while suggesting a parallel scheme by the side of the Tubachi Babaleshwar. This suggestion is unacceptable to us,” Maharastra government said in its response. (Inputs from Bengaluru bureau)last_img read more