Bhubaneswar, Jan 29:

A day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik rejected the Centre’s negotiation committee to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday accused Patnaik of creating hurdles to serve his political ends.

“The Chief Minister has given precedence to his party’s interest ignoring Odisha’s interest on Mahanadi water issue,” Pradhan told reporters here.

He also criticised the “double standard” of the state government.

“As per the Inter State Water Dispute Act, there is a right to form a tribunal. Let a tribunal be formed. But prior to the formation of the tribunal, the Centre has gone a step forward with the formation of a negotiation committee to resolve the Mahanadi issue. But, the Odisha government is not in a mood to agree to it,” said Pradhan.

He said the Centre had convened meetings of the Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries to resolve the water dispute, but every time the Odisha government changes its opinion after the meetings.

“A meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh was convened by the Water Resources Ministry. Although the Odisha Chief Secretary agreed to the decisions at the meeting, he changed his mind after talking to someone else, most probably, one of the clerks in the Chief Minister’s office,” said the union minister.

He also said that Naveen Patnaik also changed his mind even though he had agreed to the proposal for formation of a committee at the Chief Ministers’ meeting presided over by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.

“The meeting has been recorded and it will be put out as a proof. Our Chief Minister, who had agreed to the proposal at the meeting, also changed his mind later at the instance of a subordinate staff,” said Pradhan.

He said that Patnaik has never raised the issue before the Prime Minister even though he has visited New Delhi about 10 times in the last six months.

Notably, Naveen Patnaik on Saturday rejected the Centre’s negotiation committee proposal for resolving the ongoing Mahanadi water sharing dispute with the Chhattisgarh government.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister said: “The proposed committee will only delay the setting up of a tribunal, which will allow Chhattisgarh to complete the construction of disputed projects.” (IANS)