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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Health of the rivers in Odisha is witnessing radical changes due to rampant mining activities. Hence the State government should stop illegal and unscientific mining to preserve the rivers, said Rajendra Singh who is popularly known as ‘Waterman of India’. 

Singh's comment came on the sidelines of ‘Mahanadi Jatra’, which kicked off from Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Mahanadi Jatra, a rally launched by Mahanadi Bachao Andolan, an outfit fighting for the conservation of the river aims to protect the Mahanadi river in Odisha from the aftereffects of the construction of Kalma barrage in the upper river in Chhattisgarh.

During the three-day visit to Odisha, a 13-member committee led by Singh will prepare a report on possible solutions for the protection of Mahanadi based on the ground realities near the barrage. The committee is also likely to discuss the matter with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister.

The panel will also initiate discussions with the denizens of the areas situated on the bank of Mahanadi in Jharsuguda and Sonepur which are likely to suffer the worst impacts due to the barrage. The opinions of different sections of people will also be collected to prepare a detailed report.

Singh rapped the Odisha government for not getting a way out to resolve the long-pending dispute with Chhattisgarh over sharing of Mahanadi water.

“Though a tribunal has been formed to resolve the issue, no headway in this direction is quite unfortunate,” said Singh.

Meanwhile, throwing weight behind Singh, convener of Mahanadi Bachao Andolan, Sudarsan Das also lambasted the government for its intention.

“The Odisha government has turned a blind eye to the issue after the election. Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odia people. These kinds of issues should be beyond political motives. It is the most significant issue pertaining to the existence of the State and the economic, social and cultural aspects of Odia people and hence should be solved on a priority basis,” said Das.

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