Odisha to go to any extent to stop Mahanadi barrage: BJD

New Delhi: Raising the controversial issue of construction of a barrage on Mahanadi by Chhattisgarh government, a BJD MP today said Odisha will go to any extent to stop it as it would impact the lives of farmers.

Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks in the Lok Sabha, Bhartruhari Mahtab recalled history and said Odisha had in the past fought the mighty Magadh empire as well as the British government and “we will go to any extent” to deal with problem related to the Mahanadi water issue.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has already said he would fight till the last breath to stop construction of the barrage by Chhattisgarh, Mahtab said, adding that the Chief Minister has already written to the Prime Minister to ask the state government to stop its construction.

“I appeal to the Prime Minister, and Prime Minister alone, to stop construction of the barrage,” said Mahtab, adding “don’t play with lives of farmers” who depend on Mahanadi water.

The Centre, he said, should set up a tribunal to deal with the riparian dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

He regretted that while the government only talked about poor, farmers and inclusive growth, farmer suicides have continued.

The farmer suicides will continue unless farming is made a profitable enterprise. “Unless farming is made profitable, why will people take to farming,” he asked.

Mahtab also favoured simultaneous elections in Lok Sabha and Assemblies saying that people in the country knew who to vote for. “The House should discuss this and Election Commission should also participate. The quicker it is, the better it will be”.

He also said that while the Centre has claimed that savings on account of reduced LPG subsidy was Rs 21,000 crore, the CAG in its report on implementation of Direct Benefit Tax on LPG has put the figure at Rs 1,763 crore.

On the other hand, Chhattisgarh Water Resources Minister, Brijmohan Agarwal came down heavily on the Odisha government saying the ruling-BJD is trying to get take political advantage of the situation.

“Odisha does not want to resolve the issue because of the upcoming Panchayat Election and in a bid to gain an advantage they are creating issues out of it,” said Agarwal.