Mahanadi issue to be the key topic at regional conference

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government will demand for early handover of the Mahanadi tribunal terms of reference during the first regional conference of five states to be held in Kolkata tomorrow, said sources.

Besides, the State would ask for halt in construction work of Mohamala Sirapur barrage and other projects on Mahanadi upstream in Chhattisgarh.

The inter-state conference, which is chaired by Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal, will be attended by representatives from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Mainly inter-state river water issues will be discussed in the regional conference.

“We will present our argument during the inter-state meeting. Apart from this, we will demand that Chhattisgarh should stop all construction works till the Mahanadi river water issue is settled,” said Surya Narayan Patro, Food Supplies Minister.

On the other hand, a preparatory meeting for the ‘Mahanadi Mahasamilani’ was held at the BJD’s party office in Bhubaneswar. The meeting also discussed in detail what kind of political programmes will be taken up by the party in the symposium to be organised on April 22.

“The terms of reference of the tribunal has not been given to State so far. As Chhattisgarh is poll-bound, the BJP-led Centre wants to delay the process,” said BJD spokesperson Prasanna Acharya.

BJP alleged that the ruling party is trying to put pressure on the Mahanadi Tribunal by organising a symposium.

“Terms of reference cannot be achieved with agitation. They are only trying to put pressure on tribunal which is completely indecent,” said Pitambar Acharya, BJP spokesperson.

Sources said after BJP started focusing on Western Odisha, BJD has been trying to play politics by raising the Mahanadi issue.