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Goa suspends bus services to Karnataka over river dispute

Goa suspends bus services to Karnataka over river dispute

Panaji: Following reports of anti-Goa protests in northern Karnataka over the Mhadei Water tribunal ruling, the Goa government on Thursday suspended bus services to the neighbouring state for two days.

Goa’s Transport Minister Sudin Dhavalikar told reporters here that the suspension order was issued as a “precautionary measure”.

“The Karnataka bandh is for the state of Karnataka only, not for Goa. We have won the Mhadei dispute issue yesterday. The Karnataka government should solve its problem. Though bus operators here are ready to go to Karnataka, I have ordered them not to go there for two days. Right now there are no bus services for Karnataka,” Dhavalikar said.

The cities and towns of Karnataka are a major trade as well as passenger destination for Goa and over 100 inter-state buses, operated by both private and public operators, ply between the two states every day.

Wednesday and Thursday saw a string of protests in northern Karnataka, along the Goa border, after the New Delhi-based Mhadei Water disputes tribunal on Wednesday, in an interim ruling, directed the Karnataka government not to divert 7.56 TMC water from Mhadei river to Malaprabha basin until final orders.

Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar said that people from both states should respect law and order and the order of the tribunal and resolve issues in a “cultured” way instead of staging protests.

“We are an educated state. Karnataka is also an educated state and educated people must respect the country’s constitution, laws and should listen to what the judiciary says. If it can be challenged, they are free to do it,” Parsekar said.

Michael Lobo, an MLA belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, called the protests in North Karnataka the handiwork of the Congress.

“People of Karnataka have to understand that Mhadei is the lifeline of Goa. You cannot stop that, you cannot take our water, because we will be without water. The entire Western ghats flora and fauna is because of the Mhadei river. The bandh is not justified. It is a political move by the Congress government of Karnataka,” Lobo said.

Karnataka had started work to divert water from the Mhadei, which flows into Goa, into the basin of the Malaprabha river, which it claims is water deficit.