Vikash Sharma

Amid the scorching heat and water crisis, the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal is scheduled to undertake a field visit to Chhattisgarh starting tomorrow. The Tribunal team will visit several areas of Mahanadi upstream including the origin point, Sandur dam, Ravishankar Sagar and other major tributaries. 

The team will return to Delhi after taking stock at Samoda Dam on April 22. The second phase field visit is scheduled to start from April 29 and will continue till May 3, 2023. The Tribunal is likely to visit the Kelo Dam region on May 3, 2023. The team will take stock of the situation in the Hirakud dam’s upper catchment areas including Kalma barrage and others between April 29 and May 3.

There has been a constant drop in the water level downstream of Hirakud Dam. Most of the riverbed has completely dried up.

“The Judges and other members of the Tribunal, legal teams of both states and other officials have a field visit scheduled,” said Anand Sahu, chief engineer of Hirakud Dam.

Union Minister, Jal Shakti, Bisheswar Tudu said, “Odisha government is only shedding crocodile tears. They have not asked me when I am here. They want to pass on the blame to the Centre.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties including the BJP and Congress have started targeting the Odisha government on the Mahanadi issue.

Odisha BJP General Secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, “It seems that the Mahanadi issue has slipped out of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s hand. Now the government is trying to resolve the matter which seems to be difficult.”

According to Harichandan, the Centre had earlier offered to resolve the matter by mediating and even gave a proposal twice, but the Odisha government ignored it.

“Odisha government and the ruling BJD forgot about the Mahanadi issue and subsequent crisis soon after the 2019 elections. Even though a field visit is being conducted, it may take a generation for the results to come,” Harichandan added.

Congress MLA, Taraprasad Bahinipati said, “Odisha government lacks the commitment to resolve the Mahanadi dispute. It's already five years to the Tribunal. Odisha government had earlier told that the construction of barrages will have no impact, but now the Mahanadi has dried up downstream. Odisha will suffer if it doesn’t construct dams and barrages.”

It is pertinent to mention here that Chhattisgarh has set up nearly 150 check dams for which the flow of Mahanadi water to Odisha has been affected.

Odisha Panchayatiraj Minister, Pradip Amat said, “Mahanadi is an inter-state dispute and the Centre has a major role. We have been saying that as several check dams upstream have been constructed by Chhattisgarh, there is less flow of water to Odisha downstream."

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