Linking Karnataka’s overt and covert plans to divert Mhadei water for the water guzzling steel plants proposed in the Baghalkot-Gadak-section and plans to import coal via the Mormugao Port Authority, social activists and public spirited citizens under the banner of Goencho Lok on Tuesday sounded the bugle for a “do or die” battle to protect Mhadei and save Goa from becoming a coal hub.
The sustained battle will be launched on January 26 (Republic Day), wherein Panchayat gram sabhas across the State will be requested to adopt resolutions to save Mhadei and save Goa from coal. Besides, the group will launch awareness programme on Mhadei and Coal to explain to the people how the two issues are inter-linked and are being pushed forward by the corporates comprising of Adani and Jindal.
As part of the agitation, the meeting has further resolved to hold a massive protest dharna outside the MPA on January 30 at 11 am.
Suggestions were made by various speakers to intensify the agitation to save Mhadei and save Goa from coal by holding agitation at places, such as railway tracks, where it hurts the government the most. A suggestion was also made that people should be mobilized to target the MLAs.
Addressing the media after the meeting, activist Abhijit Prabhudesai said it was decided to launch a do or die battle to save Goa from destruction. “We have to do and win the battle by saving Mhadei and Goa as the corporates want to take Mhadei water and dump coal on Goa”, he asserted.
Cautioning the people of Goa that they cannot afford to remain sussegad on the issues facing the state, Abhijit said the time has come for all Goans to come out and save Goa.
“It is now increasingly becoming clear that the Karnataka government is hell bent in diverting the Mhadei river water neither for drinking nor for irrigation, but is intended to make it available for water guzzling steel units proposed by Adani and Jindal”, he said.
He added: “It is now clear three issues of track doubling, coal transportation and diversion of Mhadei river water are all interlinked. In the bargain, the corporates have drawn up plans to make Goa a coal hub by ferrying the coal via the MPA and divert the Mhadei river water for the proposed steel units”.
Pointing out that Karnataka state does not need the Mhadei river waters either for drinking or irrigation, he said who requires the water are the corporates, who have planned the biggest steel plants in the neighbouring State. “Karnataka has already become the steel hub. To produce steel, they require huge quantity of water. The 3.5 TMC water they want to divert from Mhadei will not go to the farmers, but to the steel industry. They are in a rush because they want to set up more steel and power plants. Without water, they cannot set up steel and power generation industries. And, once water comes, they will increase transportation of coal through Goa”, he said.
Abhijit warned that if the people of Goa do not fight for Mhadei, the fight against coal will not achieve the desired result, adding “if they get the water, they will demand coal to produce steel”.
He added: “Our enemies are the corporates. They need Mhadei water and the same people are out to destroy Goa by turning it into a coal hub”.
Saying the Karnataka government’s website gives clear indication that the state is planning to set up a 300 kms steel corridor around the Hospet-Bellary area, Abhijit warned that Karnataka will not be satisfied by diverting 3.5 TMC of Mhadei waters, but will continue to divert further the river waters to meet the demands of the steel industry.
Social activist Ramkrishna Jhalmi called for a sustained agitation, beginning with an awareness programme and launching a movement to target the MLAs. “We have to get the people out for a mass protest, including protests against the MLAs”, he suggested.
The meeting also expressed concern over the dilution of the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), with speakers pointed out that the plan does not even show the houses of people, which may go for demolition in the future if they are unauthorized.