Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 3:
Protesting the unilateral decision of Chhattisgarh to close gates of Kalma barrage resulting in acute water crisis in downstream areas, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today wrote a letter to his counterpart Raman Singh demanding immediate reopening of the gates to ensure free flow of Mahandi water.
“The unilateral decision to stop the flow of water has caused severe distress situation in the downstream areas in my state, inter alia, affecting drinking water needs. The people in the districts of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh and many other districts have been affected and there is widespread unrest due to unilateral action of your government in closing the gates and stopping the free flow of water in Mahanadi river. The unrest may go out of hand, if free flows downstream of Kalma barrage in Mahanadi river are not restored immediately. I emphatically state that this unilateral action of your government in closing the gates of Kalma barrage and stopping free-flow of water is wholly contrary to the inter-state riparian rights as per the 1945 understanding (under the Chairmanship of Dr BR Ambedkar) when the Hirakud Dam was planned,” Patnaik wrote in his letter.
Patnaik further stated that the state government has already filed a statutory complaint under section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 and one of the disputes in the complaint specifically refers to six barrages including Kalma barrage. During the pendency of the reference of the complaint to an Inter-State Tribunal, the state government has also filed an original suit in the Supreme Court along with Interlocutory Application to restrain Chhattisgarh government from proceeding with the construction of six barrages, including Kalma barrage across inter-state Mahanadi river.
“Your government has appeared in the Supreme Court through counsel and when the matter is pending before the Apex Court, it is expected of your government to maintain status quo regarding free flow in Mahanadi river at Kalma barrage,” he added.
Worth mentioning, the Engineer-in-Chief of Odisha government has written to his Chhattisgarh counterpart on May 31 this year giving technical details on the subject and the injury caused to the downstream areas in Odisha. The Principal Secretary, Department of Water Resources of Odisha government has also apprised the matter to his counterpart in the neighbouring state requesting him to ensure unhindered flow of Mahanadi river water two days ago.