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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Aug 7:

The Chhattisgarh government has given verbal permission to BJD’s 12-member panel to visit the state for an on-spot assessment vis a vis Mahanadi water dispute.

BJD Mahanadi panel meeting

Reports said the permission was granted to the panel following talks with Chhattisgarh Water Resources Minister Brij Mohan Agarwal. However, the panel is awaiting a written permission from the Chhattisgarh government. The neighbouring state government is likely to give its written permission today to the panel for its visit, reports added.

On getting written permission from the Chhattisgarh government, the 12-member panel of the BJD would visit the state on a two-day visit beginning August 9.

Sources said the panel to be led by BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Prasanna Acharya would make a spot assessment of Arpa project on August 9 and have a meeting with the chief engineer at Bilaspur. Similarly, apart from making a spot assessment of Kelo project on August 10 would also make an assessment of seven barrages under construction, the sources added.

The 12-member panel constituted under directions of Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik to visit Chhattisgarh for an assessment in connection with the Mahanadi water dispute held its first meeting yesterday.

The panel discussed different aspects in the presence of technical advisors-three former Engineer in Chief (EICs) Sarat Mohanty, Sridhar Behera, and Ramesh Rath for about two hours.

“In the first phase, we will make an assessment of Kelo and Arpa projects and seven barrages. Later we will fix a date for our second phase visit. In the second phase, we will have a reality check on the proposed linking of Pairi and Mahanadi and make an assessment of expansion of Tambar Dam,” panel member and BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb had told reporters after the meeting yesterday.

The 12-member panel with Rajya Sabha MP Prasanna Acharya as its chairperson will have Ministers Debi Prasad Mishra, Pradip Amat, Sanjay Das Burma, senior western Odisha leader Mangala Kissan, Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) president Kishore Mohanty, former minister Padmanav Behera, Redhakhol MLA Rohit Pujari, Convener of Krushak Morcha Sushant Singh, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb, former minister Pramila Mallick, Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi and former EICs of Water Resources department Sarat Mohanty, Sridhar Behera, and Ramesh Chandra Rath as its prominent members.

The panel after making an assessment will submit a report to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.