Bhubaneswar: Taking strong exception to the unilateral construction of major structures in the upper catchments of Mahanadi river by the Chhattisgarh government, the Odisha government today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately intervene in the matter.
Drawing the attention of the Prime Minister through a letter to some of the major unilateral acts of the Chhattisgarh government with an intention to use all the available water of Mahanadi, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said seven pick-up weirs across river Mahanadi just upstream of the Hirakud Dam such as Saradi weir and Kalama weir and seven diversion weirs across river Arpa (a tributary of river Seonath, which again is a tributary of river Mahanadi) such as Khongasara Project, Salka Project and Bilaspur project have already been constructed while construction of Ambaguda Diversion Project, Salka Diversion Project, Lachhanpur Diversion Project and Arpa-Bhaisajhar Barrage Project are underway.
Besides, two new projects—Pairi-Mahanadi intra-state link project and Tandula Reservoir Augmentation Scheme on Mahanadi River Project— which would have severe adverse impact on the flow of water into Hirakud Reservoir are also being proposed by the Chhattisgarh government. Besides, the neighbouring government is also contemplating construction of a reservoir based dam in Kelo River adjacent to Odisha border, he informed.
Stating that the above list is only indicative and not exhaustive, Patnaik said it is extremely unfortunate that in a federal system, the interests of the people of Odisha have been completely neglected.
“We are shocked that a Central agency like the Central Water Commission (CWC) has remained silent on this issue. Being a nodal agency, they are expected to be neutral and should play a proactive role in safeguarding the interests of farmers of the riparian state of Odisha,” he pointed out.
He further said Mahanadi is the ‘lifeline of Odisha’ as it contributes maximum irrigation in the state. While the farmers of 15 districts are fully dependent on Mahanadi, the river has a direct impact on more than 50 percent of the population and indirectly impact on around 65 percent of the population of the state through its subsidiaries in the Mahanadi System.
Expressing hope that the Ministry of Environment and Forests would take up this issue, the Chief Minister requested the Prime Minister to urgently intervene on this issue and direct the Central agencies to play their fair role proactively and safeguard the interests of the farmers of Odisha.
He also requested the Prime Minister to advise the Chhattisgarh government to immediately stop the unilateral construction of such major structures across Mahanadi.
“I have faith that your kind intervention will help in safeguarding the interests of the millions of farmers of our State for whom Mahanadi River System is the lifeline,” he noted.
Raking up the issue raised by their party supremo at a press meet here this afternoon, senior BJD leaders voiced their protest against the illegal construction of projects on Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh government.
“Construction of projects will block the water flow of Mahanadi to Odisha, which will seriously affect its agriculture and hydro power output. The illegal activities of the Chhattisgarh government will seriously affect the livelihood of the people of our state,” said senior BJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya.
“We strongly condemn the unilateral attitude of the Chhattisgarh government. We will bring a resolution condemning the move at the party’s executive committee meeting on July 10,” BJD leader and minister Sanjay Dasburma informed.
Asked about the matter, Water Resources secretary Pradip Jena said the Odisha government is not concerned over the minor projects which the Chhattisgarh government has constructed on Mahanadi as they have no major impact. After all, being a co-basin state, the Chhattisgarh government should also contribute water to the Mahanadi System.
But he said the state government recently came to know about the commencement of construction of three major projects by the neighbouring government. “The Chhattisgarh government has already begin the project work without prior intimation to the Odisha government. It was the CWC which asked it to inform us,” he pointed out.