Bhubaneswar: Demanding immediate formation of a river board to resolve Mahanadi water row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra today said construction of projects on the river in the neighbouring state should also be stopped.
“As Mahanadi water issue is reaching a climax, Odisha government must send a formal proposal to the Centre for formation of a river board as per the provision of the River Boards Act, 1956 for resolving the inter-state river row,” Mohapatra told reporters here.
Noting that this is the only option before Odisha to secure its rights over Mahanadi water, the BJP leader said if the river board, which is backed by a central act, fails to resolve the issue, the matter can be referred to a tribunal.
While states can approach the Centre for formation of a river board, the Centre is also free to form such a board suo motu to resolve any conflict between states with regard to sharing of river water, Mohapatra, who is also a former state Irrigation Minister, said.
Along with river board, there should be an integrated rule curve covering both upper catchment and lower reaches of Mahanadi river to ensure Odisha is able to get its due share of water, the BJP leader said adding “these two are prime necessities of Odisha for solving the issue.” On suggestions for referring Mahanadi water issue to a joint control board, he said “such a body, which is toothless and powerless, will never be able to safeguard the interest of Odisha. Joint control board is not backed by any law and it is purely advisory in nature.”
Moreover, there is no mention about Hirakud dam in the agreement signed between Odisha and erstwhile Madhya Pradesh in 1983 which dealt with nine other projects, Mohapatra said, adding those who are pleading for a joint control board on Mahanadi issue have no knowledge in the subject.
To a query, Mohapatra said Chhattisgarh should stop all construction work on projects over river Mahanadi till the issue is settled as these would severely hit flood control, irrigation and power generation in Odisha. If necessary, the Centre should also give direction to Chhattisgarh to halt work on projects on Mahanadi river in its territory, he said.
Terming as unfortunate Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh’s action in calling a meeting and asking officials to speed up construction of projects on Mahanadi, he said it has aggravated the controversy. He said it is meaningless for Chhatisgarh to claim that water flow through Hirakud dam would be unaffected during non-monsoon season without specifying the quantity of water planned to be intercepted.
Asking Odisha government to release the Hirakud Dam Project Report of 1947, the BJP stalwart said it is necessary to make it public as Odisha is entitled to get two-third of Mahanadi water as per the report, Chhattisgarh is supposed to get the rest one third water. Though there was no agreement for Hirakud dam, the provisions made in the project report for the major dam built by the Centre cannot be violated and Odisha must establish its rights over two thirds of Mahanadi river water, Mohapatra said. PTI
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