Panaji, Nov 19 (IANS): The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) has rejected the Goa government's demand to withdraw its 'go ahead' to the Karnataka water diversion project across the Mhadei river.
The Congress has accused Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar of making false promises to Goa on the water diversion issue.
In a November 18 letter to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, which was released to the media on Tuesday, Javadekar has instead agreed to set up a panel to look into the issue.
"This is in reference to your memorandum dated November 4 regarding the Kalasa-Bhandara project. It is informed through your memorandum that the proposal submitted to the ministry is more than a drinking water project and thus requires to be reviewed," the letter read.
"In this connection, a committee is being constituted to look into the issues," Javadekar said.
The development comes at a time when the Opposition has been taunting Sawant for not having enough clout with the BJP-led Central government to pursue Goa's demands vis a vis the Kalasa-Banduri water diversion project.
Reacting to Javadekar's letter, Sawant said, "The MoEF has taken due cognizance of the representation submitted by an all-party delegation and as stated in the letter, has constituted a committee to examine the issue. I am confident that the committee will soon deliberate and safeguard Goa's interest with a favourable decision."
The Congress has accused Sawant of failing to protect the interest of Goa, and conning the state on the Mhadei issue along with Javadekar.
"Javadekar has not even withdrawn or kept the MoEF letter in abeyance. This letter issued by his ministry has no meaning. I don't know how the Chief Minister is claiming to be happy," leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat said.
Under the present circumstances, Karnataka could go ahead with the Kalasa-Banduri project, he added.
However, Sawant has maintained that Javadekar would not let Goa's interest down, when his ministry's committee meets to deliberate on the state's claims.
"I have spoken to Prakash Javadekar. There will be no injustice against Goa. I can say that for sure. Within a short span of time, what Goa wants will be done," Sawant said, when asked if he would seek a time-bound response from the MoEF committee, which Javadekar's ministry is expected to constitute.
On November 4, Sawant led an all-party delegation to New Delhi to meet Javadekar and urged him to withdraw his green nod to the Rs 841 crore Kalasa-Banduri project, claiming the matter was sub judice and that the diversion of water would wreck havoc in Goa.
The Mhadei river originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.