Odisha seeks injunction suit against Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi issue: CM

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Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today informed the State Assembly that the Odisha government has sought an injunction suit from Supreme Court against Chhattisgarh government for construction of projects and planning upcoming projects in upper catchments of Mahanadi.

Replying to a question during Zero Hour, he said the Odisha government has filed an original suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution of India yesterday seeking an injunction against Chhattisgarh government from continuing with the construction of ongoing projects and from taking up future projects in the upstream of Mahanadi.

The chief minister said the Odisha government has claimed as a part of its equitable share of a minimum flow of 12.28 million acre feet of Mahanadi water at Hirakud Dam as per the DPR of Hirakud project of 1947 and a further utilisation of 3.67 million acre feet in the surplus flows.

Stating that Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odisha and its people, the food bowl of the state as well as the ecological hotspots in the delta region, Patnaik said the illegal actions of Chhattisgarh government in unilaterally planning and constructing projects and barrages in the upper catchment of Mahanadi would spell socio-economic and ecological hazard to our state and its inhabitants.

He also reminded the House of a statutory complaint filed by the state government before the Water Resources Ministry on November 22 under Section 3 of the Inter State Water Disputes Act of 1956 for the constitution of an Inter State Tribunal to adjudicate the water disputes arising from unilaterally planned utilisation of 27.48 million acre feet of Mahanadi water by the Chhattisgarh government as against a total availability of minimum flow in Mahanadi river of 20.61 million acre feet only.

“My government will take all out efforts to protect the interests of the people of our state. I am thankful to all the organizations, political parties, farmers’ organizations and individuals who had come forward in large numbers and gave their valuable suggestions. My government will leave no stone unturned to protect the rights of the people of our state in the Mahanadi issue,” Patnaik said.

Reacting to the statement of the chief minister, leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra said whenever the Opposition wants to discuss important issues for discussion in the House to seek clarifications, the state government and the chief minister are used to raise other issues only to mislead public opinion and divert the major issue.

Talking about Mahanadi issue, Mishra said the House has already discussed the issue. “The chief minister, who had told the House that he would take legal recourse, is yet to take any steps in this regard.

“Before the chief minister could take any steps, the Congress Legislature Party had met the President of India and submitted him a memorandum with a request to take necessary step in the formation of an inter-state tribunal to resolve the ongoing row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The President’ in his reply in a letter on November 19 this year had informed that he had forwarded a copy of the memorandum to the Union Home department and Water Resources department asking them to take necessary steps. The Water Resources ministry, in a letter has also informed us that it is taking necessary steps on this issue. After the steps taken by us, the chief minister reacted and wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to form a tribunal. Why the state government had made inordinate delay on this matter?” Mishra asked.

He further said the chief minister had said his government will move the Supreme Court. But the government is yet to move the apex court. All it has done is it has requested the Water Resources ministry to form an inter-state river dispute tribunal, he pointed out.

The Opposition leader said if the tribunal will be formed, what will be the reply of the Odisha government and if its asked to give a clarification on the statement of the chief minister who in his statement in the State Assembly in 2010 had said the flow of Mahanadi water to Hirakud Dam has not decreased and rather increased by 24 percent during non-monsoon season despite construction of barrages and dams on upper catchments?

“After considering this probability, we had asked the state government to take the Opposition to its confidence so that the decision can be taken jointly after a thorough review of legal implications. But the chief minister ignored our proposal and now he has taken a wrong decision,” he maintained.

Justifying his contention, Mishra, while referring to Polavaram issue, said the Odisha government had filed a case against Andhra Pradesh government to stop the Polavaram multi-purpose project. “Has the state government obtained a stay order from the apex court till date? The Centre has announced that the construction of Polavaram project would be completed by 2018 and the case filed by Odisha in the Supreme Court will not be closed before this. Then how come the state government claims that it will safeguard the interest of Odisha on this issue? The same thing will happen on Mahanadi issue,” he averred.

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