C’garh letter nails Odisha’s claim on Mahanadi project

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Odisha chief secretary clarified that the government of Chhattisgarh had not informed Odisha about the Kelo project being undertaken by it in the upstream of river Mahanadi, a document on the Kelo project survey division, Chhatisgarh, a copy of which is in the possession of OTV, has proved that the statement of Union Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Balyan, which was denied by the BJD MPs in Parliament recently, was correct after all.

In his reaction to BJD members in Lok Sabha, Balyan had clearly pointed out that Chhatisgarh had sent the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the controversial project to Odisha in 2006. The letter written by the executive engineer of Kelo project survey division to the secretary of Odisha Water Resources department on December 19, 2006 appears to validate the statement of Balyan.

“The Director of CWC (Inter-state Matters), Sewa Bhavan, RK Puram, New Delhi have suggested to send a Project Report to Odisha State for information (copy enclosed). Kindly acknowledge the receipt of this letter,” says the letter by the Executive Engineer, Kelo project.

This was the information Balyan had presented in the Lok Sabha. But BJD Parliamentarians had accused him of providing false information to the House and even moved privilege motion against him.

Odisha chief secretary AP Padhi had asserted yesterday that Odisha was kept in the dark about such construction even while Chhatisgarh Water Resources minister Brijmohan Agarwal averred that his department has kept the receipt and copy of the document, which had been despatched to Odisha 10 years back.

Addressing a press meet on the issue, Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi had said yesterday; “We want to clarify that Odisha government has not received any letter from the Chhattisgarh government contrary to media reports, which showed two letters were received from the chief engineer and the water resources secretary of Chhattisgarh in July and September 2008. Moreover, in January 2009, there was a meeting of the Central Water Commission (CWC), in which the Kelo project on Mahanadi was cleared. The documents that we have obtained clearly show that Odisha was not invited to the meeting. Even after the clearance of the project, Odisha was not informed about it. It is clear that the the the Kelo project was approved behind our backs. The CWC has also cleared the project without consulting us. As a co-basin state, Odisha has the absolute right to be consulted before clearing such a project.”

He had further stated, “It is clearly visible the clearance for the Kelo project was taken behind our backs.”

Even as the fresh document raised fresh questions on the motive of State government, veteran BJD leader and minister Damodar Rout, never shy of fishing in troubled waters, stirred the pot further today raising doubts about the affirmation of the chief secretary and adding new ammunition to the opposition in its campaign against the government.

“They (Chhattisgarh) claimed to have the receipt and copy of the letter while Odisha chief secretary has strongly denied the communication. Now, who do you believe?” Rout asked.