BJP & Congress Fire Salvoes At BJD After It Questions Their Silence Over Mahanadi Issue

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal’s second phase visit to Chhattisgarh, the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP and Congress engaged in a verbal duel and blame game over the issue here on Friday.

Calling out the Opposition for what it claimed their anti-Odisha stand, BJD Spokesperson Shreemayee Mishra said that the BJP and Congress are shedding crocodile tears for cheap politics instead of asking their party-run governments at the Centre and Chhattisgarh respectively to intervene in the matter.

The regional party said that the Odisha government demanded stopping of illegal activities after it came to know about Chattisgarh constructing barrages in the upstream of the Mahanadi and forced the Centre to intervene and hold a tripartite meeting in Delhi to resolve the matter. “But a Union Minister from Odisha sided with Chhattisgarh and tried to pressurise the Odisha government to cooperate with the neighbouring state,” she said.

The Odisha government then approached the Supreme Court after which the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 was constituted. Five years have passed since and Chhattisgarh is now ruled by Congress, which has gone silent after having raised slogans against against BJP-led government in that state over the issue. “While BJD is fighting strenuously for Mahanadi and the people of Odisha, BJP leaders in the state have also remained mum over the issue. It shows that for Odisha BJP, it is Party first and “Mati”(earth) last,” it said, adding that Congress and BJP are two sides of the same coin and the Mahandi issue has exposed their intentions.

Coming down heavily on the Odisha government, the BJP said that the Mahanadi cannot be saved by mere sloganeering. “I wonder what the government was doing for the last 23 years. Writing letters and give statements through party men would not help the case. What was the government doing when Chhattisgarh built those barrages? The water resources department was with the Chief Minister. Was the government and the CM sleeping then?” asked BJP MLA Dilip Mallick.

He also asked if the state government had ever met Prime Minister Narendra modi and the concerned minister on this issue. “The BJD is claiming love for ‘Mati’, what have they done for the state in the last 23 years? Who is responsible for the the current state of the Mahanadi?” he further questioned.

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahanipati also countered the BJD and said that senior leader of his party Narasingha Mishra had requested the CM to call an all-party meeting when the issue first raised its ugly head but it was never done. “The water resources secretary had then said that Odisha would face no problem even if they built 100 barrages on the Mahanadi. The then minister had also said that barrages will be built on this side of the river but none has been built in last 22 years,” he said.

He added that Congress has always raised its voice on the Mahanadi issue while BJD and BJP only indulged in ‘drama’.

Notably, the Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday opened 20 gates of Kalma barrage, the last barrage on Chhattisgarh side of the river ahead of the tribunal’s visit to Kalma barrage in Chhattisgarh and command area of Hirakud reservoir in Odisha to check availability and use of water in non-monsoon season.

There was a drop in the inflow of water and Odisha had written to to Chhattisgarh about it. With the opening of 20 gates, 1000-1500 cusecs of water had started flowing into Mahanadi in Jharsuguda district, sources said.

While Odisha hinted at the probability that the gates were opened to mislead the tribunal, which is visiting the neighbouring state this week, Chhattisgarh rebutted the charge, insisting that the allegation was being levelled to create prejudice.


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