Rashmi Ranjan

While Mahanadi, the biggest river in Odisha, was struggling for its survival during scorching summer, the Chhattisgarh government’s unexpected move of opening 17 gates of Kalma barrage during the tribunal’s field visit has exposed the neighnouring State’s ill-motive.

Speculations are rife that, Chhattisgarh might have opened the gates of the barrage during non-monsoon season fearing that the tribunal’s decision may go in favour of Odisha once it spots the dry conditions of Mahanadi in places like Subarnapur, Nayagarh and Boudh.

According to sources, the move from Chhattisgarh aims at misleading the tribunal by giving it a picture of fair sharing of Mahanadi water.

Notably, the tribunal will again go on a field visit on April 29 and is scheduled to visit Kalma Barrage on May 3. 

At present, Chhattisgarh is releasing water through 17 gates out of 66 gates of Kalma Barrage situated along the border of Jharsuguda district.

Though the chief engineer of Hirakud dam said he is aware of the development, he expressed his inability to give a correct figure about the inflow of water citing no information was shared from Kalma barrage authorities.

However, the move of the Chhattisgarh government may not help increase the water level of Hirakud dam, experts opined.

Commenting on the development, Engineer-in-Chief Bhakta Mohanty said, "Chhattisgarh has opened 17 gates of Kalma barrage yesterday and 3 more today. It might be in the wake of tribunal team's Odisha visit. As per reports, the team will visit Odisha on May 10. Despite opening of gates, inflow has not increased at Hirakud."

“Chhattisgarh is acting smartly to mislead the tribunal. It has opened the gates of the barrage to level up the water. But, the tribunal will just not see the water level, rather it will verify various records and documents before reaching a conclusion,” said Sudhakar Patri, former chief engineer of the Water Resources department.

Earlier, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had said Mahanadi river originated from Chhattisgarh and as the entire water goes to Odisha, the matter should not have gone to the Tribunal.

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