Bhupendra Yadav, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on Saturday skirted most questions on the controversial Mhadei inter-State dispute between Goa and Karnataka even as he said his ministry will take decisions only based on expert advice once his ministry receives it.
Yadav was in Goa to attend an event of his ministry and was speaking on its sidelines to the media.
He sought to duck questions saying he was not the relevant minister and that Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekawat is the appropriate minister to make a statement.
He said, the Mhadei issue is currently being handled at the level of the States involved and added that when it does come before the MoEF&CC, expert opinion will be taken before taking any decision.
“I am not a scientific expert to comment about Mhadei. I have to study the Mhadei diversion issue,” Yadav said, even as he refused to make any statement on the river dispute or the diversion of its waters by Karnataka.
The decades-old Mhadei dispute between Goa and Karnataka had recently shot back into the limelight after the Centre approved detailed project reports (DPRs) of the Karnataka government to build dams at Kalasa and Bhandura aimed at diverting the river's waters to the water deficient Malaprabha basin.
Karnataka's DPRs are in tune with the 2018 Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal award which permitted diversion of 3.9 tmc feet of water from its allotted 13-odd tmc feet. However, the award is under challenge before the Supreme Court and is expected to come up for hearing after Goa sought an early hearing.
Additionally, Goa has also raised objections against the inter-basin diversion and has also cited the Wildlife Protection Act, saying diversion of water for non wildlife purposes is barred.
Meanwhile, WRD Minister Subhash Shirodkar said Goa's counsels in the Supreme Court will present the case when it comes up for hearing.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition Congress demanded that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant condemn recent remarks of Union Home Minister Amit Shah where he said the BJP had resolved the Mhadei river dispute and given water to Karnataka.
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