Inter-State Water Disputes : Mahadayi River Issue


  • The Mahadayi water-sharing dispute has the states of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka vying for water from the Mahadayi River.
  • The project was proposed by Bommai committee
  • About 75% of work is in non-forest area has been completed.


River Mahadayi

  • Mahadayi, the west-flowing inter-state river in the Western Ghats, takes birth in Degaon village, belgaum  district.
  • The river travels 35 km in Karnataka; 82 km in Goa before joining the Arabian Sea.
  • The River Mahadayi is called Mandovi in Goa.



  • The sharing of waters of Mahadayi River was major cause of dispute between Karnataka and Goa.
  • Karnataka was proposing to divert excess water from Mahadayi river to Malaprabha river basin by constructing number of dams, canals and barrages to route Mahadayi river water as part of Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
  • It had citied that, diversion of surplus water from Mahadayi which drains into Arabian sea (approximately 188 tmcft of water at 75% dependability flows into the Arabian Sea now without being used for anything) to meet requirements of water-scarce districts of Bagalkot, Gadag, Dharwad and Belagavi.
  • Goa had opposed Karnataka’s proposal, contending that its population is dependent on river’s natural path and its diversion will affect its fragile ecosystem.
  • It also claimed that ingress of saltwater in river, which is dependent on monsoons, will ultimately end up killing state’s mangroves and green belt, disturb relationship between its people and land as well as ecological balance.


What is Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

  • The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
  • It is canal project undertaken by Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha



  • Kalasa-Banduri project planned in 1989; Goa raised objection to it.
  • Goa filed a complaint seeking setting up of a tribunal in July 2002.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources kept the clearance given to Karnataka in abeyance in September 2002.
  • Goa moved the Supreme Court in 2006 seeking constitution of a tribunal, withdrawing approval for any work in the basin.
  • Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.
  • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up on 22.11.2010.


Tribunal Order:

  • The tribunal has pegged Karnataka’s access to 13.4 tmc of Mahadayi River water for its consumptive use (5.4 tmc) and power generation (8.02 tmc).
  • Goa was allowed to use 24 tmc for state’s municipal water needs, irrigation water requirements and industrial water demands.
  • Maharashtra was awarded lowest share of 1.33 tmc for meeting its in-basin needs with respect to five projects.
  • It also directed Central Government to set up Mahadayi Water Management Authority to implement its report and final decision.


Analysis of tribunal order:

  • The tribunal was headed by J.N. Panchal
  • Rejected Karnataka’s plea for diversion of 7 tmcft of water from the river to the Malaprabha basin.
  • Considerations in the Tribunal’s order
    • The ecological damage that the project may cause since the Mahadayi water is a key component in maintaining the ecological balance in a wildlife reserve on the Goa side
    • Karnataka hadn’t shown what would be the downstream effects at 3 km and 5 km of lifting the river and so “relief couldn’t be granted.”
    • Given the enormous amount of water being transferred, the tribunal reasoned, there would be huge submersible pumps and specialised equipment that would be required.
    • The tribunal said it “didn’t have confidence” that Karnataka would rely on temporary structures and equipment — as it has claimed — to effect this transfer of water into the Malaprabha basin
    • Karnataka government had also not obtained environmental and wildlife clearances to execute the project.
    • Karnataka’s contention that 108.72 tmcft of water is available at 75 per cent dependability in the Mahadayi basin wasn’t cogent.
    • Karnataka has relied on the data from the Central Water Commission that is seriously contested by Goa.



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