BJD takes Mahanadi issue to the streets

Bhubaneswar: Even as both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments on Friday agreed to set up a Joint Control Board (JCB) to settle the Mahanadi water dispute, the ruling BJD protested the construction of a barrage by the neighbouring government on the river and organised rallies in different parts of the State.

Holding the BJP government at the Centre responsible for the issue, BJD’s Choudwar-Cuttack MLA Prabhat Biswal led an all-women rally in the Millennium City. The women protesters took water in earthen pots from Gadagadia ghat of Mahanadi river to Bhubaneswar. After holding a rally from Master Canteen square to PMG, they poured the water on the effigies of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Union minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Baliyan and BJP’s State president Basant Panda.

“Through this unique protest, the women are urging Lord Jagannath to give them (BJP leaders) some sense so that they fight for the well being of our State. The BJP leaders must refrain from giving false statements where the interest of Odisha lies,” Biswal said.

Bhubaneswar-North MLA Priyadarshi Mishra warned the party will continue the strike, if the Chhattisgarh government doesn’t stop construction work of the barrage on the upper catchment area of Mahanadi immediately.

“We will continue our agitation for the people of Odisha. The BJP leaders must see to it that we are not deprived of our rights,” Mishra said.

Similar rallies were observed in Boudh district where Finance minister Pradeep Amat lambasted the Chhattisgarh government for ‘snatching away Odisha’s rights at the behest of Centre.’ He said the Odisha government will not let the issue go cold until a judicious solution is arrived at.

“The Chhattisgarh government is deliberately creating problems by constructing barrages over Mahanadi. I want to ask the neighbouring government: is there any clearance to construct these barrages? The time has come to raise the voice for our State,” Amat maintained.

On the other hand, the BJP said the State government had failed to respond to the Chhattisgarh government’s letter in this regard.

“The State government was in deep slumber when Chhattisgarh asked for opinion from Odisha on the construction. Why didn’t it raise the issue then?….The Centre has assured that the issue will be resolved amicably,” BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit said.