Non-BJD outfits urge Prez to resolve Mahanadi row

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Bhubaneswar: A team of political leaders barring the ruling BJD and representatives of NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) today submitted a memorandum addressed to the President of India to Governor SC Jamir at Raj Bhawan seeking his intervention to solve the ongoing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the sharing of Mahanadi water.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said; “We requested the Governor to send the memorandum to the President. Through the memorandum, we have requested the President to protect the interests of millions of people living in Odisha and direct the Chhattisgarh government to immediately stop construction of the projects on upper Mahanadi, take necessary steps for constitution of a River Board as per the River Board Act, 1956 and refer the matter to the Central Water Tribunal in case the River Board is not constituted, and last but not the least, direct the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to reconsider the decision they had taken on Mahanadi water without consulting the Odisha government,” Mishra pointed out.

He said the Governor assured the team to take necessary steps in this regard.

Mishra said as per the decision taken at the all-party meeting held on August 3, he was given the responsibility to form a committee within seven days to take necessary steps in the ongoing Mahanadi row.

“The committee has been formed with Justice Choudhury Pratap Mishra, retired Judge of the Orissa High Court, as its chairman with former Finance minister Panchanan Kanungo, senior journalist and social activist Rabi Das; social activist and convenor of Mahanadi Banchao Andolan, Gouranga Hota, and social activist, Water Initiative, and expert in water management, Ranjan Panda as members. Besides, another person from Western Odisha would be included as a member of the committee later,” he said.

The chairman of the Committee has been given the power to nominate other persons to assist him, he added.

Former MP and Editor of Sambad, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said there is no place for political leaders in the Committee as it has members who are journalists and social activists. “The chairman will advise us in consultation with the expert members of the Committee,” he said.

He said since Mahanadi is a sensitive issue, there is no scope for any party politics.

“Considering this, we have said that the efforts being made by us are for the people of Odisha. Let there be no politics in Odisha on Mahanadi. I believe that the BJD team, which has gone to Chhattisgarh to study the projects built on the upper catchments of Mahanadi, will realise the gravity of the situation and will have a meeting with the opposition parties after its return. If a consensus emerges at the meeting, it will be most welcome. If not, we will work out our plan of action as decided earlier,” Patnaik pointed out.

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