Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday urged the Odisha government to settle the Mahanadi water sharing dispute with Chhattisgarh through dialogue, saying records show that moving a tribunal only delays a solution.
Responding to a series of supplementaries from BJD members in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour, Gadkari said while the Centre is bound by law to set up a tribunal to settle inter-state water disputes, it would be better if the state government approached the Centre for a dialogue.
He said if the state government is not satisfied, it can meet the Prime Minister.
While Odisha is free to move a tribunal or the Supreme Court, records show that water disputes are not resolved for 20 to 30 years, Gadkari said.
The minister said only on Wednesday, he has written to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik to meet him to discuss the dispute.
But BJD members said as the Centre was not restraining Chhattisgarh from constructing irrigation projects on river Mahanadi, it wants a tribunal to be formed so that the quasi-judicial body can direct Chhattisgarh to stop further construction.
Gadkari said the Centre refrains from restraining states from constructing small projects.
As questions and answers between BJD and Gadkari continued, a BJP member from Chhattisgarh accused the BJD of politicising the issue, leading to a war of words between the BJP and BJD members.
While Odisha has a BJD government, Chhattisgarh is ruled by BJP.
BJD’s B Mahtab claimed that the Speaker should not have said that his party was politicising the issue. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she never made such remarks and such allegations should not be levelled against her.
A Bill which seeks to create a single tribunal for all inter-state water disputes is pending approval of the Lok Sabha. Currently, various water disputes are handled by separate tribunals as per law.