Bhubaneswar: The state government has urged the Centre to immediately constitute inter-state river dispute tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi water sharing row between Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi has written a letter to Union Water Resources Department Secretary Amarjit Singh in this regard while seeking formal cancellation of the negotiation committee.
Expressing his concern over the matter, Padhi in his letter has said that Chhattisgarh will take advantage of the delay in constitution of the tribunal while affecting rights and interests of Odisha, which lies downstream.
“We have requested them to cancel the negotiation committee and issue a formal notification in this regard. We have also urged for the formation of inter-state river dispute tribunal,” informed Padhi speaking to reporters.
On the other hand, politics has taken centre stage over the issue.
While the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has termed the delay in constitution of the inter-state tribunal despite state writing several letters to the Union government as the Centre’s stepmotherly attitude towards Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre has blamed the state government’s incompetence for the situation.
“The Central government is harbouring stepmotherly attitude towards Odisha and is allowing Chhattisgarh to complete its entire works that are halfway during the period. This will cause immense loss to Odisha,” stated Prasanta Nanda, BJD spokesperson.
“Such situation over Mahanadi has arisen today due to the incompetence of the state government. If there will be no flow in the Mahanadi during the non-monsoon period, the Bharatiya Janata Party has already announced if the situation so needed it will take to the streets and fight with Chhattisgarh,” said BJP state unit vice president Samir Mohanty.
It may be recalled here that the state government had filed a complaint petition with the Union Water Resources Ministry in November last year seeking setting up of a tribunal to resolve the inter-state water dispute and direct Chhattisgarh to stop construction of barrages over river Mahanadi with immediate effect as we reported here.
The Union government in January this year constituted a negotiation committee to assess availability and utilisation of water in Mahanadi and its tributaries, asking it to submit its report within three weeks.
The negotiation committee failed to resolve the dispute despite two meetings as Chhattisgarh continued with the construction of its projects upstream of Mahanadi despite Odisha’s insistence for putting their construction on hold till the dispute was resolved.
Last month Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct Chhattisgarh government to stop construction of barrages upstream of river Mahanadi and ensure proper flow of water to Odisha while urging for setting up of the inter-state river dispute tribunal to resolve the issue.
Relationship between Chhattisgarh and Odisha was further strained as the former had opened 46 sluice gates of its Kalma barrage without informing the latter. The state government had opposed such act of Chhattisgarh and had written to it and the Central Water Commission (CWC) on this account.