BHUBANESWAR: The Mahanadi River Waterkeeper Organisation on Friday urged both Odisha and Chhattisgarh to build inter-State cooperation and keep the door open for dialogue for an early solution to the water sharing dispute instead of fighting the issue at a tribunal. “Tribunals won’t bring real solution to the issue as they don’t adhere to any specific principle of judging water conflict.
Besides, inter-State disputes are lengthy and often continue for a long period,” said Ranjan Panda, water expert of the organisation which works on conservation of Mahanadi river Releasing a report on ‘Mahanadi: Coal Rich, Water Stress - A study on the need for building inter-State cooperation in managing one of India’s major rivers’, Panda urged both Odisha and Chhattisgarh to sit together for talks and form a joint strategic action for proper management of Mahandi water.
“The Mahanadi conflict has become more of a political fight between ruling parties of both the States. There is a common perception that in both the States, the Governments’ involvement in the fight is more about votes than the real water crisis,” Panda said.
He further urged both the riparian States not to support the idea of large dams and interlinking of Mahanadi with Godavari and work for recognising Mahanadi’s ‘Right to life’.
He said a technical study revealed that due to barrages and dams, the total inflow of water to Hirakud would be 16,211 million cubic metre (MCM) against Odisha’s requirement of 18,175 MCM and ecological flow need of 9,621 MCM. “Mahanadi is already a stressed river and has no water for Godavari,” he said. Panda, in his report, also pointed out that through water management projects, both Odisha and Chhattisgarh are giving more priority to industrial houses than irrigation. The original plan of irrigation from Hirakud dam reservoir was to cover nearly 1.84 lakh hectare (ha) of land. But it has been reduced to 1.54 lakh hectare, the report stated and added that water allocation to industries from the reservoir has increased substantially.