Interstate River Water Dispute

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kalasa-Banduri Nala , Mahadayi River

Mains level: Interstate water disputes


Karnataka’s decision to go ahead with a water diversion project on river Mahadayi has escalated its long-standing dispute on the issue with neighbouring Goa.

What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project?

  • The Kalasa Banduri Nala project aims to divert water from Mahadayi to satisfy the drinking water needs of Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot and Gadag districts.
  • Though the project was first proposed in the early 1980s, it has remained on paper owing to a dispute between Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.
  • As per plans, barrages are to be built against Kalasa and Banduri streams — tributaries of Mahadayi — and water diverted towards Karnataka’s parched districts.

The larger issue: Mahadayi dispute

  • Mahadayi originates inside the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in the Belagavi district of Karnataka and flows into the Arabian Sea in Goa.
  • Goa, under its then CM Manohar Parrikar, approached the Centre, urging it to assess the available resources in the river and allocate water to the three basin states — Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
  • Due to the protests in Goa and also due to concerns over ecological damage, the project was put on hold by the then government.
  • The dispute gained steam in 2006, when Karnataka decided to start work on the project.
  • Goa then approached the Supreme Court, seeking the creation of a Tribunal to settle the water sharing dispute.
  • A Tribunal was finally set up by the UPA government in November 2010.

What did the Tribunal award?

  • The Tribunal in 2018 awarded 13.42 TMC water from Mahadayi river basin to Karnataka, 1.33 TMC to Maharashtra and 24 TMC to Goa.
  • In Karnataka’s share, 5.5 TMC was to meet drinking water needs and 8.02 TMC was for hydro-electricity generation.
  • Of the 5.5 TMC, 3.8 TMC was to be diverted to Malaprabha basin through Kalasa and Banduri Nalas (canals).
  • This was notified by the Central government in February 2020.

Issues raised with the Tribunals award

  • After the Tribunal award, Goa filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court in July 2019, challenging the quantum of allocation.
  • Subsequently, in October 2020, it filed a contempt petition before the SC, accusing Karnataka of illegally diverting water from the Mahadayi basin.
  • Civil appeals were also filed by Maharashtra over the dispute.

Also read:

In news: Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956


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