A four-hour long bandh called by the ruling BJD over the Mahanadi river dispute with Chhattisgarh disrupted normal life across four districts in western Odisha today. The bandh was called to protest the closure of Kalma barrage gates by Chhattisgarh since the closure of the barrage gates severely hit the flow of the Mahanadi river’s water through Odisha.
The bandh observers demanded immediate opening of the gates of the barrage so that the flow of Mahanadi into Odisha from Chhattisgarh does not get affected. Shops, business establishments and markets remained closed. Vehicle movement also came to a grinding halt during the strike, police said.
During the ‘hartal’ in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Sonepur, the BJD leaders accused the NDA government at the Centre of backing the BJP government in Chhattisgarh.
They said that the Chhattisgarh government had constructed six barrages upstream on the river ‘unilaterally’ and ‘illegally’.
Leading the hartal in Jharsuguda, senior BJD leader and former Speaker, Kishore Mohanty said the NDA regime at the Centre and BJP government in Chhattisgarh joined hands to provide Mahanadi water to industries at the cost of farmers.
“Farmers in Odisha have been severely affected due to the sharp fall in flow of water in the Mahanadi river after barrages were constructed by Chhattisgarh,” he said.
Sambalpur MLA, Raseswari Panigrahi said though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had drawn attention of the prime minister, Union water resources minister and the Chhattisgarh chief minister regarding the problem, nothing was done.
The protestors said that the Chhattisgarh government did not respond to Odisha chief minister’s request to open the gates of the Kalma barrage, one of the six barrages.
Since Chhattisgarh government closed the gates of Kalma barrage, people of Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh, Sonepur and many other districts have been facing acute drinking water shortage, they claimed. PTI SKN BJD bandh to protest closure of Kalma barrage gates drinking water shortage, they claimed.