Minister Desai says Maharashtra will have to rethink about water supply to Karnataka if irresponsible remarks continue

Maharashtra Minister Shambhuraj Desai. File Photo
| Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Amid the simmering border dispute, Maharashtra minister Shambhuraj Desai on Wednesday said if Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai does not stop making irresponsible statements, Maharashtra will have to rethink about water supply from its dams to the neighbouring state.

The Maharashtra government last month appointed cabinet members Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as nodal ministers to coordinate with the legal team regarding a court case on the state’s border dispute with Karnataka.

Addressing reporters in the Vidhan Bhavan complex here, Mr. Desai slammed Mr. Bommai over Karnataka government’s stand that not an inch of land will be given to Maharashtra.

The Karnataka legislature has reiterated the state’s stand that the border issue is a settled one, and not an inch of land will be given to the neighbouring state.

Also read | Fluid boundaries: On border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra

During a debate on the border dispute in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, CM Bommai himself suggested passing a unanimous resolution in both Houses of the state legislature reiterating and asserting the stand.

Mr. Desai said he condemns such comments, which do not suit Bommai as he holds a constitutional post.

When the case is sub-judice, a chief minister using such a “threatening language” is not good and he should stop it, he said.

“Even Maharashtra can reply in the same language and he should not provoke us,” Desai said.

Maharashtra is maintaining patience and the Karnataka CM should keep in mind that the southern state is very much dependent on water supply from the Koyna and Krishna dams (in Maharashtra) during the dry season of March and April, he said.

“If Karnataka does not stop (making such statements), then Maharashtra will have to rethink over the water being supplied to the neighbouring state,” Mr. Desai said.

Maharashtra stands firm with the Marathi-speaking people residing in the border areas, he added.

On Tuesday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil said Maharashtra should raise the height of the upstream dams to “rein in” Karnataka.

The border issue dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.

Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, as it has a sizeable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to more than 800 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.

Karnataka maintains the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report as final.

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