SC directs Centre to constitute Tribunal to resolve Mahanadi dispute

New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s stand was vindicated after Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Centre to constitute a Tribunal to resolve the ongoing Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh. The apex court while hearing the matter, directed Centre to form the Tribunal within a month.

Speaking in this regard, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said “Mahanadi is the lifeline of the people of Odisha. We have been pleading for setting up a tribunal to protect the interests of our state. Today our stand has been vindicated. I heartily welcome the orders of the Supreme Court to set up a tribunal. This will go a long way in protecting the interests of our people especially the farmers.”

Earlier this month, Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had said that the centre acknowledges the right of Odisha to demand a tribunal and it will ensure that it is done in the next 3 months.

“A composite tribunal which will merge all the tribunals of various states is on the anvil and once that becomes a law, Odisha will get a tribunal on the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh,” Gadkari had said in Lok Sabha.

Odisha has been alleging that the Chhattisgarh government was violating a 1983 treaty on Mahanadi waters by constructing unauthorised dams and barrages for the last couple of years and has been stressing on a Tribunal to resolve the dispute, said Odisha government’s counsel EC Agarwal.

Agarwal further said on Odisha’s plea, the apex court has directed for the Tribunal which will now decide on all the matters relating to the Mahanadi dispute.

Though the Central government had claimed that the matter should be resolved through negotiations between the two States, the apex court directed for a Tribunal as per 4(1) of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956), Agarwal added.

BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb stated that from Supreme Court’s verdict it is now evident that Odisha’s stand on Mahanadi was correct.

“Road for resolving the Mahanadi dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh has now been cleared with today’s Supreme Court’s order. It is a victory for Odisha and people here will get justice,” said senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra.