Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh were adopting an anti-Odisha approach on the Mahanadi water-sharing dispute.
Launching his party’s ‘Save Mahanadi’ campaign from Jharsuguda district, Mr. Patnaik criticised the BJP leaders of Odisha saying that they were supporting the Chhattisgarh government but shedding crocodile tears in the State.
Observing that Mahanadi was the lifeline of Odisha, Mr. Patnaik said that if the BJP leaders had compassion for Odisha and Odia people, then they should oppose the constructions the Chhattisgarh government was carrying out over the river. The BJD government had moved the Supreme Court and a Tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute as per its demands, he said.
Mr. Patnaik said that there was no shortage of water in the Mahanadi during the monsoon season. But the river was drying up in other seasons and the water level at Hirakud reservoir was declining due to construction of several barrages over the river by the Chhattisgarh government, he added.
Stating that the crisis will not end with the construction of barrages by Odisha, Mr. Patnaik said that water will not be available in the entire 500-km stretch along the river for the rabi season, which would also affect the lives of the fishermen community.
The people have realised that those who are supporting barrages are applying double standards, Mr. Patnaik observed.
He said that the Odisha government had constructed many mega lift irrigation projects on the Mahanadi and more such projects will be undertaken in future. Some barrages will be constructed on the river by the State government, but requisite care will be taken not to displace people, he said.
Maintaining that Mahanadi was the pride of Odisha, the Chief Minister announced that they will not allow the river to dry up.
Insisting that the movement to save Mahanadi was not the BJD’s fight alone, Mr. Patnaik urged other parties to rise above political considerations and participate in the campaign and protect the rights of the people of the State.
The campaign, which will continue for about a fortnight covering as many as 15 of the 30 districts of Odisha, will end at Paradip where the Mahanadi flows into the Bay of Bengal.