Bhubaneswar: With the Union Water Resources Minister Arjun Ram Meghawal scheduled to visit 5 states, including Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the inter-state river disputes on April 16, the Odisha has turned the heat on Centre for delay in providing the Terms of reference (TOR) for Mahanadi tribunal and construction of barrages on River Maini (the tributary of Ib River) by Chhattisgarh.
Ahead of the meeting with the Centre, the ruling-BJD citing that the Mahanadi River is drying up due to closure of Kalma barrage by Chhattisgarh government adversely-affecting Mahanadi-dependent districts, has called for a mega conference with the all the elected representatives of the affected districts on April 15 to discuss the future course of action.
Similarly, the Mahanadi Bachao Andolan, a state-level water conservation outfit today began a mega awareness drive on Mahanadi water dispute from Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar.
The regional outfit will also launch a signature campaign and ‘padyatra’ from Kalma to Puri on April 11 demanding opening of gates of Kalma Barrage by Chhattisgarh till further orders of the Mahanadi Water dispute tribunal.
The outfit is planning to collect 1 lakh signatures and will present it before the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.
“The members of the outfit will go on a campaign and collect signatures from people living along the river which will be sent for consideration of the Chief Justice of India,” the outfit’s Convenor, Sudarsan Das said.
Former State Water Resources Minister Bijay Mohapatra said that the Centre has already taken enough time to constitute a tribunal on Mahanadi water dispute, so now it should immediately announce the terms of reference and try to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
While, the ruling BJD has said that calling for a tripartite meeting once again shows that the Centre is dilly-dallying and favouring Chhattisgarh since polls are due in the neighboring state; the Opposition Congress has also criticized the BJP-led Union Government.
“Even though the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to take quick action on two occasions, the latter has always procrastinated. This shows that it has no concern for Odisha but is only trying to favour Chhattisgarh,” Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik said.
In the meantime, the Mahanadi River water dispute has been transferred from Kolkata National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench to Delhi NGT bench.