Mahanadi dispute: Oppn to approach President

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition Congress on Tuesday said it would approach the President of India to help resolve the contentious Mahanadi water sharing issue between Odisha and the neighbouring Chhattishgarh governments.

Informing this to media, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said a draft letter is being prepared for this which will be sent to the President soon.

“We hope that the President will be kind enough to meet us on the issue,” Mishra stated.

The septuagenarian lambasted the State government for its ‘non-cooperative’ attitude in the issue.

“It is a pity that the Chief Minister is skipping the discussion on Mahanadi issue in the House. When all the Opposition members are ready to unanimously decide about the next course of action, he is avoiding the meeting. I don’t think he is willing to solve the issue,” he said.

Citing an earlier occasion when Mishra called an all party meet including civil society organisations last month and sought their suggestions, he said the ruling party avoided the meet to keep itself aloof from the topic.
“The ruling party must feel that we must be united for a greater cause and for the interest of Odisha,” he maintained.

Earlier in the day the Odisha Assembly again witnessed pandemonium by the opposition Congress and BJP members who have been demanding clarification from Patnaik on the sensitive Mahanadi water dispute with neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

The House was adjourned till afternoon as the opposition Congress and BJP members shouted slogans inside the well of the House. The ruckus started as soon as the House assembled for the day.

Though Congress members had started the agitation in the well yesterday, the BJP members today joined them in seeking clarification from the chief minister.

Congress whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati tried to climb the Speaker s podium and displaced papers kept on the speaker’s desk. “The ruling party had stalled the House for two consecutive days without any issue. We are simply demanding clarification from the chief minister on what action the state government has taken to stop construction on upstream of Mahanadi River by the Chhattisgarh government,” Bahinipati said.

Though the CM in his reply on Saturday said that the state government was taking both administrative and legal action, the opposition members were not satisfied. They want specific reply from the Chief Minister, Bahinpati told reporters outside the House.

When all the members cutting across party lines agreed to cooperate with the state government and proposed to meet Prime Minister, President, the chief minister did not take the House into confidence, he alleged.

“I, Leader of Opposition and other legislators assured the government of full cooperation to protect Odisha’s interest in Mahanadi issue. But, government is yet to clear its stand. Instead, the Chief Minister has been criticising us saying that Opposition is shedding crocodile tears. This is unfortunate. We demand clarification from the chief minister,” Bahinipati added.

BJD members on the other hand criticised BJP and Congress for allegedly taking step-motherly attitude toward Odisha.

BJD member and party spokesman Divya Shankar Mishra, however, claimed that the Chief Minister has already indicated the next course of action over the river issue after discussions.

Chief minister had approached his Chhattisgarh counterpart and Centre in the tripartite meet in Delhi to halt the project, but the BJP-led government-both at Centre and the neighbouring State turned deaf, Mishra pointed out.