Vikash Sharma

At a time when scenes of drying Mahanadi River have emerged as a major concern for the people in Odisha, the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal on Saturday decided to conduct a field visit in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

After a hearing, the Mahanadi Tribunal decided to conduct the field visit in Chhattisgarh in two phases-from April 17 to 21 and from April to April 29. Once the field visit at the upper catchment areas of Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh to Kalma barrage is completed, the dates for the field visit by the Tribunal in Odisha will be announced.

Sources said that the Mahanadi Tribunal comprising the Chairman, members and the technical team will be part of the field visit in Chhattisgarh. The field visit in Odisha is likely to be held in the month of May, said Tapas Praharaj, Standing counsel Odisha.

Meanwhile, politics is active on the sensitive issue of the declining water flow of Mahanadi in Odisha.

“I have given a motion for discussion on the Mahanadi issue and Speaker had assured to take it up after the passage of the appropriation bill. I urge CM Naveen Patnaik not to visit outside and inform the House on the sensitive issue,” said Senior Congress leader, Narasingha Mishra.

Mishra further said the Mahanadi issue is being discussed since the year 2000. The state government in 2000 claimed that Hirakud is receiving excess water during the non-monsoon periods. In 2021, the government said that the water inflow has decreased and again after barrages were constructed the government claimed that water inflow has increased. But now the government has found itself in an awkward situation as Mahanadi is now drying up, said Mishra.

“Two Committees were set up with CM and Speaker as their heads. The Odisha government is not taking the Opposition into confidence for which it is failing,” Mishra added.

Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra, on the other hand, today targeted the Odisha government and expressed concern over severe water crisis in Hirakud dam.

The senior BJP leader said that it is for the first time in history that such a situation has cropped up and 13 to 14 districts of the state will be affected.

“The water level of Hirakud dam today stands at 616.69ft against the level 621.51ft in the same period last year. It shows that there is a drop of 5ft in the water level in Hirakud and one can easily imagine the situation in peak summer months. The water level of Hirakud dam has dropped by 1ft in four days which is for the first time in history," Mohapatra said.

“If the trend continues, the water level in Hirakud will come down to 600ft and it will affect power generation and irrigation,” said Mohapatra.

The senior BJP leader further said that there is a possibility of a drinking water crisis even in Bhubaneswar. The Chhattisgarh government arbitrarily constructed barrages and its impact is now being felt in Odisha in 2023. According to Mohapatra, as on today, there is an inflow of 485 cusecs in the reservoir compared to 12,000 to 15,000 cusecs.

“There is an evaporation of 815 cusecs per day and it is now led to an alarming situation. Odisha is pushed into such a situation when nobody can say what will happen next. I suspect there will be a dead storage level in Hirakud in June if the water level drops to 600ft,” he added.

“When Odisha government is spending crores on other works, it could have constructed multiple barrages downstream of Mahanadi. We are surprised how the Odisha government kept mum after knowing everything,” Mohapatra added.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government officials could not be contacted over the allegations brought by the Opposition parties.

(OdishaTV Bureau)