Bijoy Mohapatra bats for River Board on Mahanadi row

Bhubaneswar: The Joint Control Board proposed by the Centre can never solve the dispute relating to Mahanadi river water sharing between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. What Odisha needs to get its grievances redressed is a River Board to be formed by the Centre, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra said here today.

“The Joint Control Board is a toothless Board. It is an advisory Board. It has no powers and is not supported by any law. I have attended the Board meeting earlier. As per my experience, the Odisha government, under no circumstances, should agree to the formation of such a Board. I want to place my demand in this matter before the state government. Those who are advocating for the Board, have no idea about its modus operandi,” Mohapatra told media persons here today.

He said considering the above, he has specifically proposed to the state government asking it to submit a proposal to the Centre for constitution of a River Board in line with the River Board Act, 1956 to settle Mahanadi water dispute between the two states. “The interest of Odisha can be safeguarded by the constitution of a River Board,” he maintained.

Mohapatra said the project report of the Hirakud Dam prepared by the iconic engineer and Bharat Ratna awardee Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya is with the Odisha government. “In this report, it has been clearly stated that Odisha is entitled to utilise two-thirds of Mahanadi water and the rest one-third is to be utilised by Madhya Pradesh. Let the state government make the copy of the project public in the larger interest of the state,” he pointed out.

The BJP leader also advised the Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and Water Resources minister Brij Mohan Agrawal to refrain from making provocative statements against Odisha to the media.

Taking a dig at the Chhattisgarh Water Resources minister, Mohapatra said till date he has not given any specific information to the media on how much water his government is going to hold and release from Mahanadi and its tributaries river. “In this context, the statement of the minister that the water flow to Hirakud reservoir will not be hampered is meaningless,” he averred.

Mohapatra also demanded formation of an integrated rule curve for all the projects built upstream of Hirakud, including the Hirakud dam so that the two states will abide by the rules on the sharing of Mahanadi water. This will benefit Odisha as it will be able to get the required water both during the monsoon and the non-monsoon months.

He said Odisha was getting 3 million acre feet of water from Hasdeo river and 1.5 million acre feet from Ib river, the two tributaries of Mahanadi, and six million acre feet of water from Mahanadi. “Now that the Chhattisgarh government has built nine barrages and three dams, Odisha will not get the aforesaid volume of water henceforth. As a result, Sambalpur canal, Bargarh canal, Sasan canal and Taladanda canal will be seriously affected as they will not get Mahanadi water during non-monsoon seasons.

Justifying the demand made by Mohapatra, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said the state government will have detailed information about the number of barrages and dams unilaterally built by the Chhattisgarh government. Besides, it will also get the details from the BJD team currently on a visit to Chhattisgarh to have a thorough review of these projects.

Admitting that there is a need for an integrated rule curve for effective management of Mahanadi water, he said the state government will take necessary steps in this regard.