Rashmi Ranjan

Amid the ongoing political mudslinging & debate over Mahanadi river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the ground situation is worsening further as the river has completely dried up at several places in Odisha like Subarnapur, Nayagarh and Boudh.
While the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal is all set to conduct a field visit in neighbouring Chhattisgarh, all eyes are now on the preparedness of Odisha government to furnish impactful fact and figures to help strengthen the case in its favour.

The Mahanadi Tribunal decided to conduct the field visit in Chhattisgarh from April 17 to 21. Once the field visit at the upper catchment areas of Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh to Kalma barrage is completed, the team will undertake a field visit in Odisha from April 29 to May 03.

If the comparison of water level of Hirakud dam between March 27, 2022 and March 27, 2023 is taken into consideration, the seriousness of the situation can be well understood. 

Last year on this day, the water level at Hirakud was 619.93  feet as compared to 616.39 feet today, signifying a decrease by 3.54 feet.

Though the present water level at Hirakud dam has raised concerns over the production of hydroelectricity, irrigation and potable water supply, the engineer-in-chief of water resources department has ruled out the apprehensions.

“The average inflow is around 400-500 Cusec while the average outflow is 7,000 Cusec for the power channels and irrigation. The inflow is less, but we will maintain the power generation agreement and meet the irrigation demand,” said Bhakta Ranjan Mohanty, engineer-in-chief of the Water Resources Department.

“The water is around 2.5 feet above actual level and the hydro electricity generation will not be affected,” said Chief Engineer of Hirakud Dam, Ananda Chandra Sahu.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised over who is responsible for the fall in water level of Mahanadi river. Is it Chhattisgarh’s illegal barrage construction as claimed by the Odisha government or there are other lacunas?

Former chief engineer of Hirakud Dam said that there were some negligence on part of the Odisha government during 1947 Hirakud Dam water sharing policy. Furthermore, the Odisha government is failing to preserve water in lower catchment areas in the rainy season, opine several experts.

“Two Sindol hydro power projects, which could have helped in power generation and irrigation, are not operational. The project was cleared by the Government of India,” said Sudhakar Patri, former Chief Engineer of Hirakud Dam.

(Reported by Sanjay Jena and Chandan Paikray, OTV)