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Naveen briefs parties, civil society organisations on Mahanadi issue

In protest:BJD workers demonstrating against Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and Union Minister Uma Bharati in Bhubaneswar on Monday.- Photo: Biswaranjan Rout  

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday apprised different political parties, social organisations and individuals about the outcome of talk on sharing of Mahanadi River water convened by Union Water Resource Minister Uma Bharti at New Delhi on September 17.

Not convinced by the government’s narration, the Opposition Congress and BJP lashed out at the Naveen Patnaik Government saying the current crisis was the result of its lethargic response to construction of water storage structures on theriver by the Chhattisgarh government in the past.

On the other hand, ruling Biju Janata Dal on Monday activists burnt effigies of Union Water Resource Minister Ms Bharti and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to protest ‘unilateral’ construction of barrages by Chhattisgarh and the Centre not coming to the ‘rescue’ of Odisha government.

“I had meetings with various political parties, NGOs and individuals asking for their opinion on Mahanadi River problem. We noted their point of view. The government would take their suggestions very seriously,” said Mr. Patnaik after meeting different organisations at State Secretariat.

In the meeting, the government informed participants that Chhattisgarh Government did not give any assurance to stop the works forthwith and revisit the projects. Odisha did not agree to Chhattisgarh’s proposal to form a Joint Control Board.

According to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s office, political parties and civil society organisations supported government’s stand that it would explore all legal options, including approaching the Supreme Court for setting up of a tribunal and challenging the same in the National Green Tribunal.

Commenting on the issue, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the Naveen Patnaik government was only interested in politicising the issue while not showing any intention to find a solution to water dispute.

“We must ensure that Odisha should continue to get water from upper catchment of Mahanadi as was before in monsoon and non-monsoon. If the Naveen Patnaik government is not satisfied with the outcome of talk, it is free to approach any court on the issue,” said Mr. Pradhan.

Similarly, State Congress president Prasad Harichandan said, “the Biju Janata Dal has no moral right to protest on the issue. The government has utterly failed in its duty to protect the State’s interest with regards to sharing of Mahanadi Water. It is time for general public to protest government the State government.”