SAMBALPUR: Thousands of people from six districts of western Odisha joined an all-party meeting organised under the aegis of Mahanadi Surakhya Samiti, a non political body, on the bank of river Mahanadi near Nelson Mandela Chowk here on Wednesday. People from Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Balangir, Sonepur and Sundergarh districts participated in the meeting.
They congregated at the venue after coming in three rallies, which originated from Samleswari temple, Balibandha and Church Chowk in the city. Prior to the meeting, an all-religion prayer was also held to save river Mahanadi. The meeting was attended by leaders from Congress, CPI, CPM and AAP. However, leaders from BJD and BJP were not present in the meeting.
Addressing the gatherings, chairperson of the Campaign Committee of the Samiti and Congress State Working President, Naba Kishore Das said 90 percent people of western Odisha depend on river Mahanadi and the State was going through a bad phase due to conflict over the river. “The Union Government is mum over the Mahanadi water issue. The people of the state will give befitting reply to those political parties not paying attention to the issue through ballot. They will take the issue to block level and it is fight for water not for vote,” he added.
All India Congress Committee secretary, Shaikh Mastan Vali, said even though several members of Odisha Legislative Assembly had apprised CM of the illegal construction of barrages on the river when there was a BJD-BJP coalition government in the State, the matter wasn’t take up seriously. Ironically, BJD was fighting for Mahanadi and terming it injustice for Odisha, he said.
CPM leader Janardan Pati said Mahanadi was lifeline of Odisha. Around 2.5 crore people of the State depend on the river for livelihood, drinking water, irrigation and industries. An agreement regarding Mahanadi water sharing between Madhya Pradesh and Odisha governments was signed in 1983. However, Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000. Raman Singh became the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh in 2003 and construction of barrages on Mahanadi began after he came to power.
At that time, there was BJD-BJP coalition government in Odisha and BJP government in Chhattisgarh, he said. Among others, senior CPM leader, Ali Kishor Pattnaik, senior Congress leader, Jagannath Pattnaik, CPI leader, Ashok Bishi, Congress MLAs Prafulla Majhi and Jogesh Singh also spoke. The meeting was presided over by convener of the Samiti, Bhagbat Prasad Nanda.