BHUBANESWAR: As the Chhattisgarh Government is reported to have closed all the 66 gates of Kalma barrage on the upper catchment of Mahanadi river leading to acute drinking water crisis in Western Odisha districts, the ruling BJD has convened a grand convention on April 22 to decide on next course of action.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will attend the convention and interact with elected representatives of the ruling BJD from 15 districts of the Mahanadi river basin on the issue. A preparatory meeting presided over by Rajya Sabha member and BJD vice-president Prasanna Acharya was held on how to mobilise the elected representatives for the convention on Sunday.
Acharya said as the Chhattisgarh Government has closed all the gates of Kalma barrage for the last several days, Mahanadi river has become dry on Odisha side. As a result of which the situation has become grave and people of river side villages, who depended on fishing for their livelihoods, have migrated elsewhere in search of jobs, he added and alleged that the Centre is deliberately delaying finalisation of Terms of Reference (TOR) of the tribunal to benefit BJP Government in Chhattisgarh in view of the Assembly election scheduled towards the end of 2018.
Criticising the Centre for extending tacit support to Chhattisgarh by not making the tribunal on Mahanadi river water dispute functional, he warned that water crisis in Odisha side will become more acute in the coming days.
Former minister and BJD vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra said the BJD will intensify agitation in the coming days demanding that Chhattisgarh should stop all barrage work on the upper catchment of the Mahanadi river till the tribunal gives its award.
Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera, Industries Minister Niranjan Pujari, Planning and Coordination Minister Usha Devi, Mayor of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Anant Narayan Jena, former ministers Ranendra Pratap Swain, Sanjay Dasburma, Arun Kumar Sahu and Pranab Prakash Sahu and State secretary Bijay Nayak were among others who attended the meeting.