Mahanadi row returns to stall Assembly proceedings

Bhubaneswar: After two days of long marathon discussion, the Mahanadi water row again came back to stall Odisha Assembly on Monday with the prevailing pandemonium by the Opposition parties.

Soon after the House assembled, members of BJP and Congress rushed to the well and protested against the speech of chief minister Naveen Patnaik on the burning issue. Opposition chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati climbed atop the reporters’ table while shouting slogan against the CM.

Unable to run the question hour, Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House till 3 pm.

Later when the House reassembled, Opposition members continued the ruckus prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House till 4 pm and call for a meeting for smooth functioning of the House. As there was no outcome from the meeting, the Speaker adjourned the House till tomorrow but not before passing three bills- Odisha Municipal Corporation (2nd amendment) bill, Odisha Gram Panchayat (amendment) bill and VSSUT (amendment) bill.

During the House proceedings, both Congress and BJP alleged that chief minister Naveen Patnaik is not keen to resolve the issue. “As there is a political crisis in Odisha, he (Naveen Patnaik) is trying to make Mahanadi as an issue ahead of panchayat polls, which was well envisaged from his speech”, BJP legislator Pradip Purohit said.

“We found nothing except abusing BJP, Congress and other opposition parties in his speech. We expected a unanimous resolution to be passed in the Assembly on Mahanadi water row thereby putting pressure on Centre and Chhatisgarh. It is unfortunate that chief minister did not do that”, Purohit added.

Echoing similar view, Leader of Opposition Narasing Mishra said the House wanted to know government’s future plan to safeguard Odisha’s interest over Mahanadi. “The chief minister hid his government’s plan and programme. Perhaps, he has some hidden agenda on the issue. He is giving speech in the House only to mislead the people and is working outside to protect the interest of industrialists,” Mishra alleged.

“During the two-day discussion, members, cutting across party lines, agreed to protest Chhatisgarh’s move over Mahanadi row unitedly. Sad to say that chief minister did not take House into confidence”, he rued.

BJD, on the other hand, held Opposition members for disrupting Assembly proceedings. “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik clearly stated that administrative and legal struggle will continue to protect the interest of Odisha. I do not understand what more the leaders of Opposition bench want? Why did they stall the question hour session in the Assembly? BJD spokesperson Samir Das asked.

The chief minister informed the House that the Chhatishgarh government has completed eight large and 34 medium projects in the upper catchment areas of the river. The neighbouring government is in the process of constructing four large and equal number of medium range irrigation projects in the upper river basin, he said adding the State government is analysing the DPRs (detailed project report) of the six projects sent by the Chhattisgarh government.