Mrunal Manmay Dash

As Odisha waits with a parched throat for the release of Mahanadi water by Chhattisgarh from the barrages it has built on the upper catchments of the river, politics on downstream in Odisha does not seem to cease.

In a fresh debate over the Mahanadi river water, the Opposition including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress accused the Odisha government of soft-pedalling the issue thereby sacrificing the interest of millions of Odias who depend on the Mahanadi for sustenance.

“This is about the government and its incompetency. This is not about any party. The government is answerable to the people who have voted them into power. Why didn’t the Odisha government raise a single question when Chhattisgarh was building barrages over Mahanadi?” asked BJP spokesperson, Dillip Mallik.

“In fact, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was heading the Water Resources department during that time. Did he ignore the barrages in Chhattisgarh or was he sleeping,” he asked.

“And now that the matter is sub-judice at the tribunal, only making statements will not help. The government will have to make some efforts to win the case. Sadly, we do not see any such efforts being made by the State government,” Mallik added.

Congress targeted the Chief Minister over the matter too. Senior leader and Jatni MLA, Suresh Routray said, “Chhattisgarh informed Odisha before building barrages, but nobody took the matter seriously here. Even Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was the Water Resources Minister, did not act too and let Chhattisgarh build the barrages over Mahanadi.”

“This tribunal and their visits are only eyewash. There is only one way left for Odisha, and that is to build a dam on downstream of Mahanadi,” Routray said.

However, the BJD did not seem to agree with the Opposition on this. In fact, the ruling party even went on to accuse both Congress and BJP of remaining silent when Chhattisgarh was building barrages.

Addressing the press, BJD spokesperson, Shreemayee Mishra said, “The State units of Congress and BJP were silent then and they are silent now. They knew what was happening in Chhattisgarh but did not say a word back then. They are not speaking up against Chhattisgarh even now.”

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