Mahanadi row: BJD to hold up Chhattisgarh-bound trains on Aug 3

Bhubaneswar: Notwithstanding its consent for a joint control board (JCB) with Chhattisgarh government to solve issues related to sharing of Mahanadi river, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday said it would hold a token protest on August 3 against the neighbouring State’s ongoing projects on the river.

The regional party said it would stop all Chhattisgarh-bound goods trains at railway stations for half-an hour on day of the agitation.

“During the token protest on August 3, we will stop all goods trains to Chhattisgarh for half an hour. We want to show that we can follow the route that the Chhattisgarh government chose to convince the Centre regarding the projects to block construction work of the projects,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb told newsmen.

“Our protest will continue until works, which are at various stages of construction, are completely stopped by the Chhattisgarh government,” he pointed out.

Asked about the JCB both the governments agreed to in New Delhi on July 29, Deb said the Chhattisgarh government should stop work before the forum is to constituted.

“Yes, we have agreed to the joint board. But on moral grounds, the Chhattisgarh government must stop the construction work on all the ongoing projects so that we can initiate talks for the formation of the board. Besides, we have come to know that it has given false information to Centre on the projects to obtain approval. This is not something we can tolerate when the amtter involves the interests of Odisha,” Deb maintained.

School and Mass Education minister Debi Prasad Mishra pointed out that as a co-basin State, Odisha has the absolute right to be consulted before clearing any project; be it for irrigation or power generation.

“No consent on any project was taken from us before sending the proposal to Centre. We were also not invited to the meeting convened by Central Water Commission (CWC) on the projects. We were kept in absolute dark,” Mishra stated adding that the State government came to know about the Arpa-Bhaisajhar barrage project only when CWC sent a detailed project report (DPR) on this to Odisha on April 18, 2016.

He said no information was shared with Odisha government on Kelo project.

“We have not received a single letter on this (Kelo) project. If the Chhhattisgarh government disagrees with this, then a high level impartial probe should be ordered so that the truth comes out,” Mishra said.

“We want complete information about all projects on Mahanadi basin involving 20-25 tributaries. We have learnt a lesson on the Polavaram issue and won’t let it go from our hands this time,” he noted.