I endorse Goa Assembly’s stand on Mhadei water issue: Governor

Goa and Karnataka are embroiled in a dispute on sharing of the Mahadayi river water, and the former has been opposing the Kalsa-Bhanduri project.
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

Breaking his silence two months after the Opposition disrupted his speech in the Assembly for not making a statement over the Mhadei water diversion, Goa Governor P.S. Sreedharan Pillai said he has his own restrictions as a Governor as the matter is in court. A Governor is not a politician, he said.

Mr. Pillai said he supports the Assembly’s stand on the issue.

Goa and Karnataka have been engaged in a tussle over sharing of the Mhadei river water for several years. Goa has often accused Karnataka of proceeding unilaterally in the matter by ignoring pacts.

During his address to the Assembly on January 16, 2023, the Governor had avoided making any statement on the Mhadei issue prompting Opposition members to storm into the well of the House.

The Governor’s address was disrupted by the Opposition legislators, who were later marshalled out of the House.

Talking to PTI on Tuesday, the Governor said that the address to the Assembly is “normally about the policy declaration and what is proposed by the government”.

“The dispute (Mhadei) is pending before the court. As a Governor, I have my own restrictions (when it comes to the address on the floor of the House),” he said.

The Governor recalled that during his public speech after inspecting the Republic Day parade, he had mentioned Mhadei. “In an open function, I declared that I endorse and support whatever steps taken by the Assembly like a resolution passed in the House,” he said.

As a Governor, Mr. Pillai said, he cannot be commenting on the agitations and “strong demand” on the issue. “The demand of the state is reflected in the resolution and policy of the government. I extended my full support and declared that it is a genuine issue,” he said referring to his speech during the R-Day parade in Panaji.

“At the same time, the legal process is there and it is pending before the Supreme Court and other authorities,” he added.

Hinting at his restrictions to come out more aggressively on the issue, Mr. Pillai said, “The governor is not a politician.” “I am bound to follow the decisions on the policy matters taken by the State government unless it is against the interest of our nation,” he said, adding that the will of the people is reflected through the policies of the government, which “we should endorse”.

The Union government recently approved the Detailed Project Report submitted by Karnataka on its plan to construct dams on the Khalsa and Bhanduri tributaries of the river.

The Goa government is opposed to these projects, fearing that they would divert the State’s share of Mhadei water.

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