All-party meet to form joint panel on Mahanadi row

Bhubaneswar: An all-party meeting convened here by Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra on Wednesday agreed that a joint committee should be formed to protect the interests of Odisha in the ongoing Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh.

As anticipated, the ruling BJD did not participate in the meeting which was attended by nearly fifty persons from all other parties, organisations and individuals. Sources said, though Samajwadi Party had given consent for the meeting, it failed to turn up.

Addressing the media soon after the meet, Mishra said, “A committee will be set up within seven days. All parties that attended today’s meeting have given me the responsibility of forming the committee. In the long run, the body will take steps to secure the interests of the State and will work to save Mahanadi water.”

The senior Congress leader informed that a memorandum in this regard will be submitted to the Governor on August 10.

“All participants of today’s meeting will hand over a memoramdum addressed to President of India on the Mahanadi water issue to the Governor on August 10. Since it is a dispute involving two States, we will seek the President’s intervention in the matter,” Mishra said.

Participants of today’s meeting expressed doubts about efficacy of the bilateral agreement signed between Odisha and Madya Pradesh in 1983 in solving any issue arising Mahanadi waters. They stressed that the State government should push for the constiution of a tribunal to bring the issue to a logical conclusion.

“As per the 1983 bilateral agreement between Odisha and MP, a joint control commission should be set up…The CM should press the Center to set up a tribunal on the Mahanadi issue. If the State writes to Centre for a tribunal, the Centre is bound to write to the Supreme Court on this….Logically the tribunal is bound to submit its report within three months,” Mishra pointed out.

The ruling BJD, however, criticised the meeting presided over by Mishra.

“It was not at all an all party meeting as claimed by Mishra. The state presidents of both Congress and BJP did not attend the meeting,” BJD spokesman PK Deb told reporters.

Deb claimed the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Prasad Harichandan did not approve such a meeting chaired by Mishra, the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and also claimed the AICC did not endorse such a meeting.

Though BJP state president Basant Panda did not attend the meeting, BJP legislature party leader K V Singh participated in the meeting.

In a related development, the ruling party today stopped all Chhattisgarh bound goods trains at railway stations for half an hour as a token protest on the issue.