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New Delhi: The opposition to river linking project involving Mahanadi by a "section of people" in BJD-ruled Odisha is aimed at reaping political benefits, Union Minister Uma Bharti alleged today even as she sought to allay apprehensions that project will "take away" the river's water.

Union Water Resources Minister Bharti also asked officials to make mention of all the rivers to be linked as part of the particular project: Manas-Sankosh-Teesta- Ganga- Mahanadi-Godawari instead of merely calling it as "Mahanadi-Godawari link project".

Or else, she said, "some people" in Odisha will allege that the water of Mahanadi, which flows through the state, is being taken away.

"The mother link is Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga-Mahanadi- Godawari and not only Mahanadi-Godavari. The moment you (officials) say it is only Mahanadi-Godavari link project, it meets with opposition, some people there (in Odisha) say their water (of Mahanadi) is being taken away," Bharti said.

Seeking to dispel the apprehension, the Minister said the project aims at recharging Mahanadi first and only then, its surplus water will be taken to Godavari which flows through Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana besides Odisha.

"We have completed preparation on the mother link. The opposition to it is political and there is no logic to it and is baseless. The opposition is sentimental and aimed at reaping political benefits," she said without naming the ruling BJD in Odisha.

The Minister reiterated the mother link will address issues of hunger and drought in Odisha, besides helping use flood water for irrigation purposes in basin states which also include Bihar and West Bengal.

The Odisha government has been opposing the river inter-linking project claiming it will result in acute shortage of water in Mahanadi, considered as lifeline of the state.

Apart from Bharti, the Jal Manthan was attended by Ministers of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan and Vijay Goel, ministry secretary Amarjeet Singh, his predecessor Shashi Shekhar and other senior officials.

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