‘Odisha free to move anywhere to settle Mahanadi dispute’

Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha government moved Supreme Court by seeking an injunction against Chhattisgarh’s ‘unilateral’ construction on Mahanadi river, Water Resources minister of the neighbouring government on Sunday said Odisha can move anywhere to solve the issue.

“We got to know that the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government has sought an injunction from the apex court in the matter. On this I want to clarify that we have no objection if the State government moves anywhere to settle the issue. We are always ready to solve the matter at the earliest. But the Odisha government wants to politicise the issue”, said Brijmohan Agarwal, Water Resources minister, Chhattisgarh.

He noted that Chhattisgarh is always ready for talks.

“Odisha doesn’t want a solution rather it wants the matter to linger. As the State is going to panchayat polls early next year, it has an hidden agenda to gain politically. We welcome its move to the apex court which will decide the matter”, Agarwal maintained.

On the other hand, the State government which has already appealed the apex court for a tribunal in the matter, is hopeful that the judgement will be in their favour.

“Since the Supreme Court has the power to stay the construction works undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government, we are hopeful that our injunction will yield results”, BJD spokesperson Surya Narayan Patro.

The regional party must be trying to strike hard for a win-win situation in the matter, but the two successive moves by the Odisha government in the recent past has not gone down well with legal experts.

They opined that the injunction was not needed in this case as an appeal has already been made before the Centre.
“I feel that at a time when the Centre is contemplating on formation of a tribunal in the Mahanadi matter, how the State government sought an injunction in the case of an original jurisdiction”, said senior lawyer Manas Mohapatra.
“Both the moves made by the State government are conflicting in nature”, he pointed out.

Official source said the injunction sought was against the continuation of construction of ongoing projects and future projects in the upper catchment of the river. The suit was filed under Article 131 of the Constitution on December 2.