Mahanadi row: BJD, Congress reject negotiation committee

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: A day after the Centre constituted a negotiation committee to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute, the BJD-led State government showed reluctance to accept the panel constituted to assess the availability and utilisation of water in the Mahanadi river and its tributaries.

“Still the Centre has proposed for a negotiation even after the meeting between the chief ministers of both the State failed. The meeting of chief secretaries was also a negotiation move, it also failed. But, nobody is doing anything to halt the work. So, why the question of negotiation is being raised again?” BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said.

Stating that the Centre’s move on constituting a committee comes after protests in Odisha over Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh being chosen as a star campaigner by BJP for the ensuing rural polls, Deb added the State government’s demand to stop work is not yet implemented.

Similarly, the Congress questioned the efficacy of such a committee and asked the State to reject it. The State government should reject such a committee as we want a tribunal. This committee has been set up to influence people during the time of elections. Has India witnessed a negotition committee ever? Questioned Tara Prasad Bahinipati.
State BJP is optimistic of a probable solution of the inter-State feud while Union minister of Water Resources Uma Bharti vowed to protect the interest of Odisha.

“It is a congratulatory move of Centre. We hope it would pave the way to resolve the Mahanadi dispute,” State BJP president Basant Panda said.

Meanwhile, Union minister Uma Bharti refuted the allegation of central neglect. She said there should be cooperation between both the States. “The government of Odisha should think about the interest of Chhattisgarh and Chhattisgarh too should respect its neighbouring State. But, it is alleged that interest of Odisha is being ignored as BJP is in power in Centre and Chhattisgarh. This is false and baseless allegation. We are ready to sacrifice life for Odisha, the land of Lord Jagannath”, Bharti told newsmen in Delhi.

The Ministry of Water Resources constituted a negotiation committee to assess availability and utilisation of water of Mahanadi and its tributaries.

The committee will also examine existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and will consider claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilisation of waters of these rivers.

The committee was set up after complaint by Odisha Government under section 3 of the Inter-state River Water Disputes Act (IRWDA) 1956 regarding utilisation of water of Mahanadi Basin. The committee will be headed by a member (Water Planning and Projects) from Central Water Commission (CWC) and will have 11 other members comprising representatives from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Union Ministries of Agriculture, Environment Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, India Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission (CWC). The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.

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