Mahanadi row: Odisha to set up House Committee

Bhubaneswar: With Centre unlikely to constitute a tribunal to resolve Mahanadi water dispute between with Chhattisgarh, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today informed that a House Committee led by Assembly Speaker and comprising leaders from all political parties will be constituted to chalk out a strategy to protect the State’s interests in the matter.

The decision to form the committee came after an all party meeting between CM Naveen, Speaker Pradeep Amat, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, BJP LP leader KV Singhdeo along with the government Chief Whip and Parliamentary Affairs Committee members.

Coming down heavily on the Centre for not agreeing to set up a tribunal on the river dispute, CM Patnaik said, “We have decided that a House Committee will be formed. What the Central government has done in the Supreme Court yesterday suggests that they are no longer a neutral referee in this matter. So we will have further discussions with leaders of other parties to think of future strategies but be assured that the BJD will fight for the interest of the people of Odisha, particularly its farmers.”

Meanwhile, CM’s comments on the issue have not gone down well with the BJP. Party chief Basant Panda said the CM should refrain from politicising the matter and especially when the decision to fight for Mahanadi has been taken unanimously by all parties, the Chief Minister should not project that all the efforts are being made by the ruling-BJD.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Centre on Wednesday accused Odisha government of not providing any data or adducing any evidence in support of its stand on the water dispute. The Centre slammed the state government for not making any effort to resolve the dispute.

It is to be noted that the state government had earlier rejected a negotiation panel constituted by the Centre in January 28 under Inter State River Water (ISRW) Dispute Act, 1956.

Praying before the court to direct Odisha government to cooperate with Chhattisgarh to arrive at a permanent, amicable solution, the Centre has said that since the functioning of a tribunal is similar to the process followed by the ‘negotiation committee’, set up earlier, it is quite likely that Odisha may also thwart the legal process before the tribunal also just the way it did in January 28.