The senior Congress leader, Mr Ramakant Khalap, on Monday, met the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Prithviraj Chauhan, and his Cabinet Ministers, Mr Narayan Rane and Mr Balasaheb Thorat, at Sindhunagari, Oros, in Konkan, and discussed the Tillari issue with them.
Mr Chauhan assured Mr Khalap that the water supply from the Tillari project to Goa would be re-started soon.
It may be recalled that a fortnight ago, canals of Tillari irrigation project went dry due to protests by villagers from Maharashtra. They had demanded that government of Goa should honour its assurance given to them during conception of the project as regards their rehabilitation. The project has been supplying water to the three talukas of Goa namely Bicholim, Pernem and Bardez.
Later, addressing a press conference, Mr Khalap told the reporters that he also met a delegation of the agitators from Tillari irrigation project area and was assured that the agitation would be withdrawn at the earliest.
Speaking further, Mr Khalap said that he requested the Maharashtra Chief Minister to find an early solution to the Tillari issue and ensure that the demands of the agitators are fulfilled, thus allowing the Tillari water to flow back into Goa.
“In the year 2000, Goa and Maharashtra restarted the suspended work of the Tillari irrigation project, and on December 19, 2001, the right side of the canal of this project was completed,” he recalled, maintaining that the water from the Tervan Medhe dam, which formed a part of the project, subsequently entered Goa.
“In 2001, it was agreed that the entire work of the Tillari project would be completed in next 3 years, and simultaneously rehabilitation of the displaced people would be undertaken,” Mr Khalap remembered, further noting that during this period some unfortunate events occurred and the said work was never completed. He also observed that the initial cost Rs 45 crore of the Tillari irrigation project has now bloated to almost Rs 1,500 crore.
Lamenting that the displaced people were not provided with the sites for housing, plots for agriculture and jobs, which were promised to them, Mr Khalap said that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra has promised to look into the matter.
“The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has already asked his officers to provide him with all the facts about the irrigation project by tomorrow, and further assured to call a meeting of the concerned officials within next 2 days,” he stated, pointing out that Mr Chauhan will also meet a delegation of the affected people, in Mumbai, as also meet the Chief Minister of Goa, Mr Manohar Parrikar for reaching an amicable solution on the issue.
“The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has agreed to do everything possible and re-start the flow of Tillari water in the next few days,” the senior Congress leader stated, informing that the agitators have also promised him to suspend their agitation and go back to their respective villages. [NT]