Panaji, Feb 1 (IANS) A fresh row has broken out in Goa over the Mhadei interstate water dispute, with the Opposition demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant over a remark made by a former state government counsel in the Supreme Court in 2019.
The row broke late on Sunday, after senior counsel Arvind Datar, who was holding brief for Goa in the Mhadei dispute case in the apex court, told a local news channel that in 2019 he had been directed by the Goa government to not object to Karnataka's plea to the Supreme Court seeking directions to the central government to notify the award of the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal.
"Former Senior Counsel Adv. Arvind Datar reveals that he did not object to notification of Mhadei Award before Supreme Court on clear instructions of Government of Goa. The betrayal by BJP of Mother Mhadei stands exposed. Congress Party demands Chief Minister of Goa must step down," Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat has now demanded.
"RESIGN, @goacm! It's now clear that @GovtofGoa did not oppose the #MhadeiTribunal Award Notification because the lawyer was instructed not to. Who instructed him?@DrPramodPSawant or WRD minister Felipe Neri Rodrigues? Who betrayed mother #Madhei? #Goa wants to know ! Answer!" former deputy Chief Minister and Goa Forward party MLA Vijai Sardesai also demanded via a tweet.
Mhadei also known as the Mandovi river in Goa and Mahadayi in Karnataka, is considered as a lifeline in the northern parts of Goa. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.
While the river runs 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is over 50 km in length in the state Goa. Goa, Karnataka are battling out a two decade-long dispute over the sharing of the Mhadei waters.
The Goa government has already filed a contempt petition accusing Karnataka of already diverting the river's water, despite the Supreme Court hearing another special leave petition filed by Goa which has challenged the Tribunal's award.
The Opposition has however taken issue with the failure of the Goa government to object to Karnataka's plea in the SC in 2019, in which the latter had requested the apex court to direct the central government to notify the Tribunal's award, effectively formalising the water sharing arrangement.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has however rejected the accusations made by the opposition.
"No instructions were given by anybody from the Government to not oppose notification of Mhadai award. Government instructions are always in writing," a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office said.
The statement also said that Datar had been dropped as a Goa government counsel more than a year back and that former additional Solicitor General of India, PS Narasimha now appeared for the state government.
"This fact is already in the public domain for more than a year. I once again appeal to the opposition to not play dirty politics on the Mhadei issue," Sawant said.