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Mahadayi River Dispute

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January 04, 2023

Why in news?

Karnataka’s decision to go ahead with the Kalasa Banduri Nala water diversion project on river Mahadayi has escalated its long-standing water dispute with its neighbor Goa.

What is the story behind?

  • Karnataka had received clearance from the Centre for two Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) on the Kalasa-Banduri Nala on the Mahadayi.
  • The state government has decided to go ahead with the project, after securing a go-ahead from the Central Water Commission (CWC).
  • But, a clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) is still awaited.
  • Goa immediately announced that it would take an all-party delegation to Prime Minister and meet other Union ministers to block the project.

What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

River Mahadayi originates from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary of Karnataka and flows into the Arabian Sea in Goa. Kalasa and Banduri streams are tributaries of Mahadayi.

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

Why is there a dispute?

  • Since the proposal in 2002, Karnataka government during the tenure of SM Krishna as chief minister (2009-2012) decided to implement the project, after the Centre cleared it.
  • Goa, under its then CM Manohar Parrikar (2000-2002), 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 Central government.
  • Tribunal - In 2006, Goa approached the Supreme Court, seeking the creation of a Tribunal to settle the water sharing dispute.
  • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) was finally set up by the Central government in 2010.

What did the Tribunal say?

  • In 2018, the Tribunal 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.

What happened after the notification?

  • After the Tribunal award, Goa filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court in July 2019, challenging the quantum of allocation.
  • In 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.


  1. Indian Express | Mahadayi water sharing row between Goa, Karnataka

Quick Facts

River Mahadayi

  • River Mahadayi spreads across the districts of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • It rises in the Western Ghats, from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Belagavi district of Karnataka.
  • Flowing westward, it enters Goa. Over two-thirds of the river’s stretch lies in Goa (76km).
  • It is known as River Mandovi in Goa.
  • River Mahadayi joins the Arabian Sea at Panaji, Goa.
  • Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, an estuarine mangrove habitat, which is declared as the bird sanctuary, and located on western tip of the Island of Chorao along the Mandovi River, Goa.
  • Tributaries of Mahadayi include, Kalasa Nala, Surla Nala, Haltar Nala, Poti Nala, Mahadayi Nala, Pansheer Nala, Bail Nala, Andher Nala, etc.
  • The variations in the terrain has led to formation of various water falls such as the Doodhsagar falls,Vajra poha fallsetc.


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