Kalasa Banduri Nala project

Despite opposition from Goa, Karnataka Water Resources minister Govind Karjol announced that the state will proceed with the Kalasa-Banduri project on the River Mahadayi. The project, which aims to divert water from the Mahadayi to provide drinking water for the districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot, and Gadag, has been the subject of controversy for decades. In 2020, the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal allocated 13.42 tmcft of water from the river to Karnataka, a decision that has been challenged in the Supreme Court by Goa and Maharashtra.

What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project?

The Kalasa Banduri Nala project involves the construction of barrages against the Kalasa and Banduri streams, tributaries of the Mahadayi, in order to divert water towards Karnataka’s parched districts. The project was first proposed in the 1980s, but it has yet to be implemented due to a dispute between Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra.

The Mahadayi Dispute

The Mahadayi river originates in the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in the Belagavi district of Karnataka and flows into the Arabian Sea in Goa. In 2006, Karnataka began work on the Kalasa-Banduri project, prompting Goa to approach the Supreme Court and request the creation of a tribunal to settle the water sharing dispute. The tribunal was eventually established by the UPA government in November 2010.

In 2018, the tribunal awarded 13.42 TMC of water from the Mahadayi river basin to Karnataka, 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra, and 24 TMC to Goa. Of Karnataka’s allocation, 5.5 TMC was allocated for drinking water and 8.02 TMC was allocated for hydroelectricity generation. Of the 5.5 TMC allocated for drinking water, 3.8 TMC was to be diverted to the Malaprabha basin through the Kalasa and Banduri Nalas (canals). This decision was notified by the Central government in February 2020.

Issues with the Tribunal’s Award

Goa has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the allocation of water from the Mahadayi by the tribunal. In October 2020, it also filed a contempt petition accusing Karnataka of illegally diverting water from the river. Maharashtra has also filed civil appeals in the dispute.

Karnataka’s Decision to Proceed with the Project

Despite the ongoing legal disputes, Karnataka Water Resources minister Govind Karjol has announced that the state will proceed with the Kalasa-Banduri project. Karjol stated that Karnataka does not need permission from Goa to use the water awarded to the state by the tribunal and that the project is necessary to meet the drinking water needs of Karnataka. He added that the Supreme Court has generally taken a favorable view of drinking water projects.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced on December 30, 2020, that the Union government had cleared the DPR for the project. This move is expected to benefit the BJP in parts of Kittur Karnataka that will be served by the project.



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