Odisha rejects centre’s proposal for expert panel on Mahanadi issue

Bhubaneswar, Sep 24 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday rejected the central government’s proposal to set up an expert committee to look into the Mahanadi water sharing dispute.

“We reject the proposal as it does not stop the construction by the Chhattisgarh government and the helpless Union government,” he said while participating in a debate on the Mahanadi water sharing issue in the assembly.

He said the state government received a letter from the Union Water Resources Ministry informing about the constitution of an expert committee to look into the Mahanadi issue without instructing Chhattisgarh to stop construction.

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti had proposed to constitute an expert technical committee at the tripartite meeting attended by both the Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh and Odisha on September 17.

“I put forth the demand to stop construction by Chhattisgarh government on Mahanadi. Unfortunately the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh did not agree. Also the Union Minister did not support the issue,” said Patnaik.

Noting that the the construction of barrages by Chhattisgarh will seriously jeopardise the fragile eco-system such Satkosia, Bhitarkanika and Chilka etc, he said that his government has decided to take all steps both administrative and legal to protect the rights of Odisha.

The Chief Minister also criticised both the then UPA government and present NDA government for the Mahanadi mess, saying it was created by the then UPA central government and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh.

“UPA sarkar failed to discharge its federal responsibility as enshrined in the Constitution causing great injustice to the people of Odisha. What made it worse was the central funding of some of these projects which had interstate ramifications,” he added.

He said it is learnt that Chhattisgarh has prepared a master plan for utilising almost 120 percent of the utilisable water available from their catchment.

“These plans of Chhattisgarh will seriously impact the Mahanadi basin. However, the present NDA sarkar for obvious political reasons is blatantly taking sides with the BJP-led Chhattisgarh Government. These narrow political considerations in this sensitive inter-state issue jeopardise the interests of Odisha,” he said.

The opposition Congress and BJP criticised Patnaik’s statement.

“The statement of the Chief Minister is unfortunate and deplorable. His statement is of Biju Janata Dal, not of a Chief Minister,” said leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra.



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