Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 9:

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra today dismissed the idea of constituting a joint control board for finding a solution to the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh while describing it as a ‘toothless board’.

Bijay Mohapatra on Mahanadi issue

Mohapatra advised the state government to formally propose the Centre for constituting a river board instead of the joint control board suggested by the Centre to resolve the Mahanadi water sharing dispute between Odisha and the neighbouring state. Odisha’s interests can be only protected by the constitution of river board, he added at a press conference here.

Odisha government should under no circumstances agree for a joint control board, Mohapatra argued.

“Joint control board will not be in the interest of Odisha. The joint control board is a toothless board. It has no power. It is not supported by any law. As per law joint control board has no powers to resolve disputes. I have attended joint control board meetings and I am telling it from my own experience that under no circumstances should Odisha agree for a joint control board. I want to place this demand before the state government,” Mohapatra pointed out.

Responding to a pointer from reporters that some are batting in favour of the constitution of a joint control board as proposed by the Central government, the senior BJP leader and a former Water Resources Minister said: “Those who are arguing for a joint control board have the least idea on it.”

“For that reason, my specific proposal to the state government will be to formally propose the Central government for constituting a river board as per provisions of the River Board Act 1956, which is a Central Act. Only, the constitution of a river board can safeguard the interests of Odisha since joint control board is only an advisory body,” Mohapatra clarified.

“Secondly, the state government should make public the project report of Hirakud Dam which was prepared by Visvesvaraya. A copy of that is with the Odisha government. It has been clearly stated therein that Odisha has two-third rights and that of Madhya Pradesh was one-third. The state government should immediately make public that report for Odisha’s interest,” the senior BJP leader demanded.

Mohapatra also advised Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to refrain from making provocative statements repeatedly without facts are in fact making the issue go out of control in Odisha.

“Thirdly, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister and his Water Resources Minister by repeatedly issuing provocative statements without the backing of facts are making the situation go out of control in Odisha,” Mohapatra said.

Giving details about the projects being constructed by Chhattisgarh upstream of Mahanadi Mohapatra warned that these projects would severely affect both irrigation and power generation capacity of Hirakud Dam during the non-monsoon period.

“They (Chhattisgarh) have constructed nine barrages. Apart from the nine barrages, they are going to construct three dams. The three dams are Pairi-Mahanadi, Arpa-Bhaisajhar, Tandula and Kelo. These three dams and nine barrages have been the reason of loss for Odisha. This will decrease the non-monsoon inflow into Hirakud Dam. With 3.91 million acre feet water Hirakud reservoir attains a level of 630 feet. We will be using this water for irrigation and power generation. During the non-monsoon period, we will require minimum 2 million acre feet of water failing which irrigation and power generation will be affected. We should be clear that 3.91 million acre-feet and 2 million acre feet water is our minimum requirement. So it is clear that we will be affected by two million acre-feet of water. With the construction of these dams and barrages Odisha will be deprived of the water held by them,” Mohapatra explained.

It may be noted here that Mohapatra’s today’s statement is in contrast to Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s statement that formation of joint control board would be in the interest of Odisha.