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Hirakud flood management to suffer this monsoon!

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Sambalpur: As the war of words between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing of Mahanadi river water intensifies, an eminent environmentalist apprehends that the real issues are getting diluted.

At the moment, lack of water flow data seems to be the major bone of contention. “The recent turn of events show there is complete lack of data and distrust between both the governments. If this continues, monsoon will play devastation in the basin,” warns Ranjan Panda, Mahanadi River Waterkeeper and Convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO).

During last few weeks, it is only when people like us and local media raised concerns about the closing down of all gates of Kelo and Kalma barrages that the Odisha government came up with reactions. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote letters to his Chhattisgarh counterpart Dr Raman Singh and PM Narendra Modi urging not to stop Mahanadi’s flow upstream Hirakud.

It’s good that the state government is listening to concerns of the people, but it also shows that there is no official mechanism for sharing of data between the two states. “If this continues, it will prove disastrous during monsoon when Chhattisgarh will have to open many gates in case of heavy rains. Can Odisha afford to wait for local people to inform when Chhattisgarh dams and barrages open dams?” asks Panda.

“The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has projected a near to 100% monsoon this year and there is every possibility of flooding in the Mahanadi basin. Lack of coordination between both the states on water flow data and flood management will be fatal for people downstream. Hirakud dam’s safety will also be at stake,” cautions Panda.

We urge upon both Odisha and Chhattisgarh government to immediately, on a war footing basis, have a joint strategy to avoid any flood related disasters in the basin. “The central government also has to play a pro-active role in this and engage the Central Water Commission (CWC) in helping to establish a mechanism of coordination for flood management taking into consideration water flow scenarios under various conditions including cloud bursts,” urges Panda.