BHUBANESWAR: THE ruling BJD on Wednesday urged Assembly Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat for constitution of a House committee to press the Centre for formation of a tribunal to adjudicate the inter-State dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing of Mahanadi water.
Accusing the Centre of giving preferential treatment to Chhattisgarh Government by declining to form a tribunal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Arukha said the proposed House committee will take up the matter with the Centre. Arukha was replying to a debate on Mahandi issue on behalf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
In a federal system, all the States should be treated equally by the Centre. However, the Centre is showing step-motherly attitude towards Odisha while giving preferential treatment to Chhattisgarh so far as Mahanadi water dispute is concerned. The neighbouring State has been given ample opportunity to complete all pending projects undertaken on the upper catchment of the Mahanadi river despite objections from Odisha Government, Arukha said.
Criticising the Centre for the delay in formation of a tribunal, Arukha said the Chief Minister had written several times to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. The delay in constituting the tribunal has been taken advantage of by Chhattisgarh which is going ahead with the construction of six barrages on Mahanadi and is likely to prejudicially affect the interests of Odisha during non-monsoon period, he said.
Though the Centre had assured the apex court on October 9 for issuing notification by November 19 for constitution of a tribunal, it had taken a different stand in the apex court, which is unfortunate.
Participating in the government-sponsored motion, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra said the State and the Centre are equally responsible for the current crisis.
Mishra said he had been repeatedly writing to the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting on the issue, but the latter paid no heed to it. Earlier, the Chief Minister had assured the House that his Government will protect the interests of the State. This is not the time to do politics on the issue. “I once again appeal to the Chief Minister to call an all-party meeting to decide the strategy to fight the case unitedly. I assured the House that my party will go to any extent to protect the interests of the State,” Mishra said.
Initiating the debate on the motion, Government Chief Whip Amar Prasad Satpathy said 41 per cent less water flowed in the Mahanadi river in November this year as compared to the same month last year due to barrages constructed by the Chhattisgarh Government on upper catchment areas. He feared that water flow in the river will further reduce by 73 per cent in March and 77 per cent by May 2018 and this will affect 16 districts of the State. The Centre has been a mute spectator though Chhattisgarh is busy setting up barrages on Mahanadi, he said.