Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The 12-member BJD delegation scheduled to visit the controversial project sites on Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh has sought the cooperation of officials of the neighbouring State during the spot assessment, but is yet to receive any reply.

Addressing a media conference after the first meeting of the newly formed delegation at the Panth Niwas here today, Rajya Sabha MP Prasanna Achrya, who is the head of the panel, said that the team has set August 7 and 8 as the tentative dates for the visit.

"We are scheduled to visit on August 7 and 8, but that will be finalised subject to their confirmation as we have not received any reply from Chhatisgarh till now. We are eagerly waiting for their consent," Acharya said.

The team will visit the neighbouring State in two phases, said Pratap Keshari Deb, member of the delegation. "In the first phase, we have planned to visit the Kelo and Arpa-Bhaisajhar project sites along with seven other projects. We want their EIC, chief engineer, superintending engineer or other project officials to remain present and discuss with us. In second phase, we will visit Pairi-Mahanadi intra-state link project proposed by Chhatisgarh and others, which is on an another route,” Deb said.

The ruling party in Odisha on Friday constituted the 12-member committee with the approval of chief minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik. Acharya is the head of the panel while Finance minister Pradip Amat, Industries minister Debi Mishra, Food Supplies minister Sanjay Dasburma and party leaders like Rohit Pujari, Kishore Mohanty, Sushant Singh, Padmanabh Behera, Pratap Keshari Deb, Pramila Mallik and Raseswari Panigrahi are members.

The committee will prepare a complete report after assessing the ground realities at the project sites and submit it to the chief minister.

On the other hand, Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan today criticised the BJD vice president for his move on the Mahanadi issue and dubbed him as a 'college level politician'.

"He (Prasanna Acharya) should attend the House first. He was not present in the Rajya Sabha when the discussion on water and GST was on. He should not act as college student,"Pradhan said.

The BJP leader also flayed him over the attack on the Union minister Santosh Gangwar and others in Bargarh.

"We are already in the grip of fear after what he did in Bargarh engaging his entire family. He should not attempt to stop the projects using the same method. These need to be stopped in a lawful manner," he commented.

The former Odisha minister also countered Pradhan over his 'college boy' remark. "I would like to thank the Union minister that he recognised that I am young enough to do something for the cause of Odisha. I am doing what my party has assigned me. I am not the lone member in Rajya Sabha from Odisha," Acharya said.

On Pradhan's statement about his family’s involvement in the assault on central ministers, he said; "I don't need a certificate from anybody about my family. The people of Odisha, especially western Odisha, know my family better," the parliamentarian said.