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Vinod Palyekar  

In a clear departure from its stand on the Mahadayi waters dispute, Goa Minister for Water Resources Vinod Palyekar said on Thursday that his State was open to talks with Karnataka and Maharashtra to explore an out-of-tribunal settlement.

He was replying to a question by The Hindu on the State government’s response to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s letter requesting the Goa Chief Minister for talks and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis had also supported it.

‘Rigid stance’

Mr. Palyekar said he would discuss the issue with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar upon his return from the U.S. on Friday.

Asked what made Goa change its “very rigid stance” of sticking to the tribunal verdict only, Mr. Palyekar, who represents Goa Forward Party in the BJP-led coalition government, remarked that all three States had been spending huge sums over the dispute and the legal battle had been on for long. It would be in the fitness of things to explore an amicable solution, he said.

Some proposals

Mr. Palyekar said he recently met Karnataka Minister for Water Resources M.B. Patil at a function in Karnataka. The latter broached the water dispute issue and indicated that they had some proposals such as building power plants jointly with Goa.

“At least it is my personal view that it would be advisable for all the three States as well as for the country if we can sort out our issues through talks. It would save money as well as time and energy,” he said.

Verdict next month

On the strong pressure exerted by environmentalists and civil society that with the tribunal expected to give its verdict next month before the expiry of its term, any deviation by the Goa government would compromise its interest, the Minister said his view was that “talks is an option to negotiate and discuss issues, to have a give and take, to reduce the differences and to come to a solution where, as long as Goa’s interest is not compromised, there should not be any problem”.

“I am of the opinion that it would be a better option to work for an out-of-court settlement by agreeing to discuss the issue. That is what I will tell the Chief Minister,” Mr. Palyekar reiterated.

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