Mahanadi row: Tripartite meeting fails, Odisha plans to move SC

New Delhi: The much awaited tripartite meeting convened by Union Water Resources minister Uma Bharti in the national capital today to resolve the ongoing Mahanadi water row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh remained inconclusive as both the states remained adamant on their stand.

“As you know, Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odisha as 65 percent of our population is dependent on the river for irrigation, drinking water, fishing, transport and other important matters. We placed our arguments and demanded immediate halt in construction of the upcoming projects in Chhattisgarh as it will have adverse impact on the downstream areas of the river. Besides, these projects built on upper Mahanadi will have adverse impact on the unique biodiversity hotspots like Gahirmatha, Bhitarkanika, Satkosia and Chilika lake. We also demanded formation of a committee to study the impact of these barrages on Mahanadi downstream areas. But the Chhattisgarh refused to accept these demands”, chief minister Naveen Patnaik told media persons after the meeting.

“In spite of our detailed arguments and appeal to the Centre and the Chhattisgarh government, the Chhattisgarh government did not give any assurance to stop the works forthwith and revisit the projects. They were insisting on Joint Control Board (JCB). We are of the view that at this point of time JCB will not be able to protect the interest of Odisha. Hence we did not agree to this. We will explore all options. We will leave no stone unturned to protect the interests of Odisha. That would certainly include the legal option of approaching the Supreme Court for setting up of Tribunal under Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956. The serious environment threats posed by these projects will be decisively challenged in all suitable forums including National Green Tribunal (NGT)”, Patnaik informed.

He said the issue would be discussed threadbare at the State Cabinet meeting scheduled in the state capital tomorrow and strategies would be formulated for future course of action.

Also read: Mahanadi row: Misc case in HC to make Naveen, CWC parties

Briefing the media, the Union Water Resources minister made it clear that the Central Water Commission (CWC) till date has not received a single master plan proposal of any of the projects from the Chhattisgarh government. “It is a myth which is widely circulated by the media”, she averred.

She said she has given a proposal to form a committee within a week which is agreed by the officials of her ministry as well as the Chhattisgarh to find out which projects of these two states had the eligibility for a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the projects the construction if which has started with the approval of the TAC. “I have proposed the two states to stop the construction work of the projects at least for a week the work if the committee expresses doubts that these projects have violated the Central guidelines. “Both the states have agreed for formation of the committee to study impact of these projects on Mahanadi. They will submit detailed reports on these projects to the committee within a week”, she pointed out.

The Union minister also informed that the Odisha government has given a proposal to the ministry for formation of a committee which will have environment experts of both the states.

The Union minister also made it clear that the Modi government will not allow injustice to be meted out to Odisha on Mahanadi issue.

Talking to the media, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said inflow of water from upper Mahanadi from Chhattisgarh has five times the capacity of Hirakud reservoir. “On the contrary, only 15% of Mahanadi water is used by Chhattisgarh while 57% of the river water goes to the sea”, he noted.

Singh, however, said projects which are almost complete, cannot be stopped. But he hoped that the issued can be resolved through meetings with the Odisha government and the Centre.