Holding Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for Mahanadi river water row with Chhattisgarh, Congress on Friday said if the tripartite meet called by the Centre fails to resolve the issue, the state government must demand formation of a water dispute tribunal. “If the exercise fails to reach an understanding to protect Odisha’s interest, the state government should ask the Centre to constitute Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal as per provisions of Inter-state Water Dispute Act, 1956,” a white paper on Mahanadi water issue released by state Congress said.
The white paper was released in Bhubaneswar by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan a day before the tripartite meeting called by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in Delhi on Saturday. Demanding immediate halt to construction of all dams, barrages and other projects on the upper reaches of the Mahanadi river by Chhattisgarh government, the white paper said river water was meant for the life and livelihood of the people of both states and not for business.
While hoping that the meeting would succeed in resolving the issue and safeguard Odisha’s interest, the PCC chief said Mahanadi river water issue should never be allowed to assume the shape of Cauvery water dispute. Stating that a water sharing agreement should be signed with Chhattisgarh with emphasis on protecting the interest of Odisha, Harichandan said a river corporation or board should be formed for the development of Mahanadi and the river valley as per provisions of the constitution.
Hitting out at the BJD Government, the white paper alleged that after having failed to protect Odisha’s rights over Mahanadi river water, Naveen Patnaik regime was doing politics over the issue by launching agitation despite being in power. Targeting the chief minister, the Congress white paper claimed that Patnaik, who is also in charge of water resources department, was fully responsible for Mahanadi river water controversy which is taking the shape of a major dispute.
“He (Patnaik) is accountable for negligence in protecting state’s interests,” Harichandan said quoting the white paper. Odisha Government should prepare a comprehensive document on all projects being constructed and the existing ones on the upstream of Mahanadi river before Hirakud dam, their impact on environment, he said, adding it should also include assessment of water requirements of both states at present and for next 100 years.