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Odisha CM takes Kalma barrage issue to PM

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Bhubaneswar: While the inter-state water sharing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh has been raging with the dwindling of water flow to its downstream in Hirakud Dam, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in directing Chhattisgarh to stop the construction of barrages on Mahanadi river and to open the gates of Kalma and other barrages to maintain the free flow of water into its territory.

“I strongly urge for immediate constitution of Inter State Tribunal under the provisions of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 and reference of the complaint dated 19.11.2016 for adjudication. I also urge for your goodself, being head of the federal system, to intervene by instructing the upstream of Chhattisgarh to stop the construction of barrages on inter state Mahanadi river and to open the gates of Kalma and other barrages to maintain the free flow of water downstream which is the rightful claim of my slate and its inhabitants,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The upstream state of Chhattisgarh has unilaterally undertaken the construction of six barrages across the Inter State Mahanadi river including Kalma barrage, which is located near the Inter State border. These barrages among other disputed works are a subject matter of the complaint preferred by my state on 19.11.2016 to the Central Government seeking constitution of an Inter State Tribunal under the provisions of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act of 1956, Patnaik said.

However, despite passage of more than six months, no steps have been taken by the Central Government allowing the upstream State of Chhattisgarh to uninterruptedly go ahead with the disputed projects in Mahanadi River basin. My State has also approached the Supreme Court and on the last occasion, while adjourning the matter to 25th July 2017, has requested the Additional Solicitor General representing the Central Government to take instructions on the formation of a Tribunal as demanded, he added.

The Water Resources Department of my Government recently has witnessed an alarming situation due to the dwindling flows Into the Hirakud Reservoir. On inquiry, it was learnt that the upstream State of Chhattisgarh while opposing the formation of a Tribunal (which unfortunately seems to have been entertained by the Union Ministry of Water Resources) has gone ahead and erected the gates of Kalma barrage and then closed the same blocking the free flow of water to my downstream State of Odisha and its inhabitants causing huge unrest in the border districts on account of reduction of flow into Hirakud reservoir resulting in scarcity of drinking water in summer months, he further said.

Referring to the letter written to his Chhattisgarh counterpart earlier this month, Patnaik said: “I had written to my counterpart for immediate opening of the gates of Kalma barrage in order to ensure free flow of water in the downstream of Mahanadi. But, till date neither I have received any official response from him nor has he got the gates opened restoring the free flow of water.”