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Odisha turns heat on Centre over Mahanadi issue

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Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the meeting of five States called by Union Water Resources Ministry at Kolkata on April 16 to discuss inter-state river disputes, Odisha’s ruling party-BJD has turned the heat on Centre for dilly-dallying in announcing Terms of Reference (ToR) for Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal while standing a mute spectator to Chhattisgarh constructing barrages on River Maini (a tributary of River Ib).

The State government is gearing up to raise Mahanadi and other river issues at the meeting called by Union Water Resources Minister Arjun Ram Meghawal on April 16.

On the other hand, politics has hotted up with political parties in the State making statements and counter statements over the issue.

“What is the reason behind the Minister asking the two parties for a meeting?” questioned BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

“Without going to the tribunal and asking the two parties for a meeting indicates that the Centre is dilly-dallying and buying time since Chhattisgarh will be going to the polls soon,” he alleged.

“No, you can no longer make a fool of the Odisha people by blaming Chhattisgarh. Mahanadi’s water should be retained and used for the people. Let the State government speak out on that and then blame Chhattisgarh,” said Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram.

“We believe they have no empathy for Odisha. Rather they are sympathetic towards their government in Chhattisgarh,” stated senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik.

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra has criticized both Centre and Chhattisgarh over construction of barrages on Mahanadi and Maini rivers.

“Terms of Reference (ToR) should be announced and the tribunal should start functioning at the earliest. The Centre has taken enough time and any further delay will go against the interests of Odisha,” pointed out Mohapatra.

In a related development Mahanadi Banchao Andolan today started its journey towards Kalma barrage alongside the banks of River Mahanadi.

The socio-cultural outfit will collect signatures from people residing along the river and spread awareness as well.

These signatures will be appended to a memorandum which will be submitted to the Chief Justice of India.

“There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the cause of the delay is Chhattisgarh. This yatra will move along the banks of river Mahanadi and collect signatures from people which will be submitted to the Chief Justice of India,” informed Sudarshan Das, Convener, Mahanadi Banchao Andolan.