Cyclone Fani casts ‘eye’ on Mahanadi water dispute; hearing postponed to July13

For the cyclone, State officials are busy in relief and rehab works in affected districts, so the government cannot spare them for the joint meeting and site visit

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: In yet another instance of cyclone Fani impact, the hearing over Mahanadi water dispute scheduled for today in the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal here has been postponed to July. The next hearing will be held on July 13.

As soon as the proceedings started in  the tribunal, both Odisha and Chhattisgarh have pleaded for a time of four weeks because, the third joint meeting couldn’t happen owing to cyclone Fani that hit the Odisha coasts on May 3.  The tribunal has accepted the plea of both the States and fixed the next date of hearing on July 13.

“For the cyclone Fani, State officials are busy in relief and rehab works in the affected districts. The government cannot spare them for the joint meeting and site visit. Therefore, we have pleaded for more time to conduct the site visit, prepare a report and submit so to the tribunal,” informed Odisha State counsel Surya Mishra.

Significantly, the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh that created a political tempest of sort in the State, has seen another hearing today courtesy the ‘Fani’ tempest. The 3-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar in its last hearing had asked both the States to make an on-site visit, prepare a report on water flow and submit so on May 11.

The contention of Odisha was Chhattisgarh through its 11 major projects is withdrawing more water than its due share. As per a submission made in an affidavit before the tribunal by Odisha, Chhattisgarh makes withdrawal of around 4.32 MAF (million acre-feet) water above its due share. Besides, Chhattisgarh has also stored 1.78 million acre-feet water through several medium and minor projects constructed on the upstream. For which, the tribunal had ordered for site visit and that couldn’t take place for cyclone Fani, suggest reports.