Bhubaneswar: A day after filing a complaint petition before the Water Resources ministry for seeking formation of a tribunal to resolve the ongoing row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh government on sharing of Mahanadi water, the ruling BJD today said it would move the Supreme Court if the Centre shows its unwillingness for formation of the tribunal.
Talking to media persons here, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said on Mahanadi issue, the state government has begun judicial process. As per the law of the land, a petition was filed before the Water Resources ministry yesterday.
“There will be a specified time frame for the Centre to decide whether it is going to accept the proposal of the state government for formation of a tribunal or not. If it does not accept the proposal, then we will move the Supreme Court on this matter. Besides, in the petition, we have apprised the concerned ministry to take necessary step by directing the Chhattisgarh government to stop its ongoing project on upper Mahanadi with immediate effect. If the ministry does not take any prompt action, we will move the apex court,” he informed.
The BJD leader further said there is no restriction for the Odisha government to move the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with regard to the environmental impact on the flora and fauna of the state due to construction of these projects on upper Mahanadi.
Asked as to how the Water Resources department, which in the State Assembly in 2010 had said that there would be no dearth of Mahanadi water for Odisha despite construction of barrages in the upper stream by the Chhattisgarh government as the volume of upstream water flow to Odisha in the last 25 years has gone up, now mentioned in its petition to the Water Resources ministry that the state has been receiving less volume of water due to construction of these upstream barrages, Deb admitted that this is a contradictory statement.
“It is found at times that some departments furnish wrong information in the State Assembly. But the fact remains that whatever information the state government has mentioned in its petition to the ministry, is absolutely correct and there must not be any doubt on this,” he averred.
To a question on how long the state government will have to wait for the decision of the Centre in the formation of the tribunal, Deb said as per rules, the Centre can take a maximum of one year to take a decision. “But if the Centre fails to decide within the deadline, then the state government will not remain silent and take necessary legal recourse,” he pointed out.
Informing the media at the State Secretariat, Water Resources secretary Pradeep Jena said the state government has urged the Water Resources ministry not to make any delay in the formation of an inter-state water dispute tribunal.
“We have placed all relevant arguments in the petition on the need for formation of the tribunal. We have also taken up the matter with the Union Water Resources secretary in this regard,” he added.
In his reaction, leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra said if the state government has the will power to take up Mahanadi issue, the Opposition will certainly welcome its move as it has finally accepted its advice.
“But I have a doubt that the state government is not keen on this issue. It is most likely that the state government, to hoodwink the people of the state, will say it has provided all information to the Centre for formation of a tribunal. If the state government has deliberately provided wrong information, the Centre will reject its appeal. Later, the chief minister, in an attempt to come clean on this matter, will have his customary ‘Central neglect’ tag,” Mishra pointed out.
BJP State unit president Basant Panda said his party has been telling the state government to place its demands before an appropriate forum as per rules to safeguard the interest of the farmers and people of Odisha.
“There has been inordinate delay by the state government to rake up this issue. Now that the state government has woken up from its deep slumber after 16 years, let it not make further delay and work sincerely for the upliftment of the people of Odisha,” Panda added.