SAMBALPUR: EVEN as the BJD has upped its ante against the Chhattisgarh Government over construction of barrage over river Mahanadi upstream of Hirakud Dam Reservoir, there was complete lack of coordination among the State Government departments which led the neighbouring State to go ahead with its construction.
While there is no denying that the construction was going on over the years, the State Government was never serious about the matter till a hue and cry was raised over the issue. The State Government has now passed on the buck to the Central Water Commission (CWC).
Although Chhattisgarh Water Resources Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal has clarified that the barrages will not affect the flow of water into Hirakud Dam after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to the Prime Minister, the State Government cannot disown its failure to protect the interest of the farmers of at least 15 districts who are dependent on river Mahanadi.
Though the Water Resources Department (WRD) of the State Government has a gauge site office of Hirakud Dam near Saradihi Barrage in Chhattisgarh, the BJD’s claim that the Government was unaware about the construction does not hold water.
Moreover, when Odisha had withheld its consent to a proposal of Chhattisgarh for diversion of 85 million cubic metres of water from river Mahanadi to Tandula Dam for irrigation in August last year, how is it that Odisha was unaware of the plans of Chhattisgarh Government to enhance its land under irrigation.
In his letter to former Director, Project Appraisal Centre of CWC, Engineer-in-Chief of Water Resources Janaki Ballav Mohapatra had pointed out that Chhattisgarh has not entered into any inter-State agreement with Odisha on Mahanadi basin water allocation. Since Hirakud is an old structure, the letter had said any diversion needs to be resisted on rational ground.
The WRD had also expressed its dissent over the unilateral decision of Chhattisgarh Government to construct a series of barrages on upstream of Hirakud without taking the former into confidence.
Later, it had sought the detailed project report on intra-basin link project and called for creation of a forum to take the lead towards an inter-State agreement on Mahanadi water sharing. Both the States must have a dialogue on the matter through engineers first, it stated.
There is also an agreement between Chhattisgarh Government and NTPC over drawing of water for NTPC plant at Lara from Saradihi barrage. However, the work on Saradihi barrage was started in August 2011 and completed in March 2016 while it is formally awaiting inauguration.