Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today launched a rally to make people of Odisha aware of its dispute with the neighbouring BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi water sharing issue.
Patnaik, also the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president also accused Odisha’s BJP leaders of supporting Chhattisgarh in this issue. Odisha has been objecting to construction of projects on Mahanadi by Chhattisgarh.
“The attitude of the BJP government at the Centre and in Chhattisgarh is anti-Odisha. The BJP leaders in Odisha are supporting Chhattisgarh for its projects on Mahanadi and shedding crocodile tears after coming here,” he said.
Addressing a public meeting where he launched the ‘Mahanadi Surakhya Yatra’ of the BJD at Sukhasoda in Jharsuguda district, he said if BJP leaders have the slightest sympathy towards the people of Odisha, they should oppose the Chhattisgarh government’s work on the river.
Stating that the Mahanadi remains dry in most of the year except rainy season, Patnaik said it was the BJD which had been opposing the Chhattisgarh government’s works.
“The BJD government has gone to the Supreme Court and the Mahanadi tribunal has been constituted due to our demands,” Patnaik said and called upon the people to actively participate in the rally.
The rally will pass through 15 districts and culminate at Paradip in 15 days, BJD leader and Labour Minister Susant Singh said.
“During the fortnight-long campaign, public meetings and cultural programmes will be organised in villages and towns on the routes of the rally to make people aware of the conspiracy hatched by the Chhattisgarh government to dry up Mahanadi river,” Singh said.
This apart, diyas would be offered to the deities in all the temples on both sides of the river including Mata Samaleswari in Sambalpur and Lord Gadagadeswar in Cuttack, Singh said adding that handbills and booklets on the issue would be distributed among people during the campaign.
The BJP, however, criticised the BJD for not resolving the Mahanadi issue through negotiations.
“The tribunal may take a decade long time to come to any conclusion. Therefore, the matter should have been resolved through dialogue. But the BJD government is not interested to resolve the matter and make it alive for political gains,” said BJP spokesman Golak Mohapatra.
State Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said the BJD’s awareness campaign can not resolve the issue.
“The Chhattisgarh government started construction of projects in 2000. Why the state government was sleeping till 2015? The BJP led central government has also been unkind towards Odisha in Mahanadi issue,” Niranjan Patnaik said.
The Odisha government had moved the Supreme Court in December, 2016, seeking an order asking Chhattisgarh to stop its construction work in projects on the upstream of Mahanadi, saying it had affected the river flow in the state. It had also pitched for setting up of the tribunal.
Following the Supreme Court directive to the Centre, the Union Cabinet approved setting up of a tribunal to resolve the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing of Mahanadi river water.
The 857-km long Mahanadi river originates from Amarkantak in Raipur district of Madhya Pradesh and flows around 494 km through Odisha before meeting the sea. Its catchment spreads over 1.41 lakh square km in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.