Mahanadi row: Cong ‘invites’ Naveen to all-party meet

Bhubaneswar: Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra today invited chief minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik to an all-party meeting proposed to be convened by the Congress to discuss the unilateral decision of the Chhattisgarh government to construct a host of projects in the upper reaches of Mahanadi and decide on appropriate steps to protect the interests of the state.

“I had requested you to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the situation. But I am sorry to say that you have not even acknowledged receipt of my letter, what to talk of responding to my request. Therefore, it will be reasonable on my part to believe that you are not interested to call an all-party meeting. I, therefore, propose to call a meeting of representatives of all political parties of the state to discuss and take appropriate steps on the above mentioned subject. I will be happy if you can communicate a date and venue for such a meeting so that either you or your representative can attend the meeting,” Mishra said in his letter.

Talking to OTV, Mishra said as there was no reply from the chief minister, the Congress Legislature Party has decided that a party delegation would visit the project sites in Chhattisgarh where Mahanadi water is being regulated. “After visiting the sites, the delegation will have a meeting with senior officials of Chhattisgarh,” he added.

As per the schedule, a seven-member delegation of the Congress, led by Mishra, will leave for Chhattisgarh tonight. The delegation would leave Bhubaneswar in Tapaswini Express and arrive at Jharsuguda tomorrow morning. From there, it would leave for Chhattisgarh by road.

The other members of the delegation are Naba Kishore Das, Subala Sahu, Debendra Sharma, Prakash Chandra Behera, Ansuman Mohanty and Jogesh Kumar Singh.

Meanwhile, protesting the illegal construction of the projects by the Chhattisgarh government, the Biju Yuva Janata Dal (BYJD) staged a demonstration at the collectorate in Sambalpur today.

Speaking on the occasion, party MP Nagendra Pradhan said the BJP government in Chhattisgarh has resorted to an anti-farmer policy in the name of industrialization in connivance with the Central government and is planning to dry up the Mahanadi riverbed. “This is nothing but a well-orchestrated conspiracy against Odisha,” he pointed out.

BJD Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya said his party is demonstrating in support of its demand. “Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odisha. Hence, any attempt to dry up its water flow will invite spontaneous protests as this is a matter of life and death for the people of our state,” he maintained.

BYJD president Sanjay Dasburma,said all political parties, civil societies and farmers’ associations of Odisha should stand united and raise their voice against the unethical activities of the Chhattisgarh government.

In his reaction, BJP leader Pradip Purohit said the Chhattisgarh government has begun construction of barrages on Mahanadi since 2000 and has completed 40-45 barrages till date.

Wondering how the Odisha chief minister, who holds the Water Resources portfolio, has remained silent over the matter for the last 16 years, he said even the Congress, during its tenure in the state, had not taken any proactive steps for the formation of a joint regulatory board with the Chhattisgarh government as per the agreement signed between Odisha and Madhya Pradesh in 1983 to decide on the sharing of river water.

“Now that the construction of most of the barrages is nearing completion, there is no point in BJD staging demonstration at the collectorate. Will the collector be able to solve this issue?” Purhohit asked.

On the other hand, two senior BJP leaders have given conflicting statements on sharing of Mahanadi river water

While BJP state president Basant Panda said Odisha and Madhya Pradesh government had signed a joint agreement in 1983 to decide on the sharing of Mahanadi water through a joint regulatory board, his party colleague Bijoy Mohapatra has said there was no such agreement signed between these two states.

“Those who are giving such information to the media are indirectly supporting the Chhattisgarh government. I have the copy of the agreement signed between the two states in which there is no mention of river water sharing,” he claimed.