BJD raises concerns over Centre’s River Basin Management Bill

Bhubaneswar: Raising concerns over the Centre’s proposed River Basin Management Bill, BJD MLA Debi Prasad Mishra on Wednesday said the new law will restrict States’ independence in usage of water resources.

Mishra further alleged that the Centre’s attempt to manage water resources at micro level may not be in the interest of Odisha which is located in the coast.

Participating in a discussion in the Odisha Assembly, Mishra said the proposed bill will serve the purpose of the Centre only but ignore the interests of the States.

Citing an instance of Odisha getting affected due to the new bill, Mishra said though Brahmani and Baitarani are separate rivers, the bill treats them like one.

“Baitarani river is 1,400 km long and spread across 40 sq km in Jharkhand. The new policy provisions allow the Jharkhand government to intervene in Odisha government’s decisions if it decides to construct anything on the rivers,” Mishra said.

In response, Odisha Assembly Speaker Surjya Narayan Patro has directed State Water Resources Minister Raghunadan Das to present the State government’s stand on the issue in the House so that further discussions can be held.

“With the passing of this bill, rights of the States on usage of various water bodies including inter-State rivers will be limited. The Odisha Assembly Speaker has asked the Water Resources Minister to present the State’s view after holding discussions with experts and officials,” said Mishra.

The Centre is planning to bring the new law to speed up inter-state river water dispute resolution among states and manage affairs of 13 river basins across the country.