Chhattisgarh claims ‘first right’ on Mahanadi water

Bhubaneswar: In an act clearly designed to provoke Odisha, Chhattisgarh today asserted that it has the ‘first right’ on Mahanadi waters.

Justifying the seven irrigation projects undertaken in the upper catchment areas of the Mahanadi river and a barrage on its tributary Arap, Chhattisgarh Water Resources minister Brij Mohan Agarwal said; “As Mahanadi is flowing into Odisha through Chhattisgarh, we have the first right on its water.”

“Nothing has been discussed with Odisha at the administrative level. But we think the water of the rivers are for the benefits of the country and should be utilised as per the requirement,” he said.

As if the irrigation projects and the barrage were not enough, Chhattisgarh is also planning to dig a large intake well with a capacity of 10,000 cusecs to supply water to a steel company.

The people in Odisha fear if the neighbouring state sets up the barrage and irrigation projects in the upper catchment area of Mahanadi, the Hirakud reservoir may not have adequate water for storage. Apart from this, irrigation and basin management in Odisha will be seriously affected if Chhattisgarh goes ahead with these projects..

Janaki Ballav Mohapatra, Engineer-in-chief in the Water Resources department, said the state government will seek a report on the proposed projects from Chhattisgarh. “We have to find out on whose statutory clearance they (Chhattisgarh government) has taken up the projects. As the Central Water Commission (CWC) is the controlling authority for inter-state water, we will inform them about the issue. We are also seeking a report from the Chhattisgarh government.”

The , he saidWater Resources chief engineer has been asked to prepare a detailed report on the issue by July 10.

Coming from a state which is on the same side of the fence as Odisha on the vexed Polavaram issue, Chhattisgarh’s belligerent attitude on Mahanadi water has caused a headache for policy planners in the state.