Amid Mahanadi controversy, fresh row emerges over river linking project

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Mahanadi river dispute continues, a fresh row over the centre’s plan to fetch water from Brahmaputra for Mahanadi basin through river linking project has stoked fresh controversy as it is being alleged that the Centre has kept the State in dark over the proposal.

As per the plan of the ministry of Water Resources, the Brahmaputra would not be linked to Mahanadi directly, but through Ganga (Faraka)-Damodar-Subarnarekha and Subarnarekha-Mahanadi link. The Mahanadi-Brahmpaputra link subject featured in the special committee meeting held in November. However, the State government alleged that Centre has not apprised the State about the project formally even as the feasibility report for all these projects has been prepared.

“They have not yet given the proposal formally. All aspects including impact on climate, residents and land acquisition will be analysed thoroughly once the State government receives details of the project,” Water resources secretary Pradeep Jena said.

The matter has fuelled political squabble between BJD and BJP in State. The regional party alleged the project will crop up another inter-State water dispute if Odisha is kept in dark.

“It can’t be carried out if the Centre exerts pressure. It will emerge as another inter-State dispute. The Centre is always busy implementing projects for the interest of other States while turning a blind eye to Odisha”, BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy said.

Similarly, the BJP hoped the river linking project would benefit Odisha. “The river linking would definitely benefit the State. The BJD government knows well whether Centre is concerned for the interest of Odisha or not. The State government has been claiming that it would not have impact on Odisha if Chhattisgarh took away water from Mahanadi which the neighbouring State did already”, BJP leader Golak Mohapatra said.

Notably, the Union government has plans of 30 river linking projects at a cost of Rs 5.60 lakh crore.