Mahanadi river row: BJD strike hits life in Odisha

Bhubaneswar Jun 10 PTI | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 10, 2017


BJP for pressure on Central Water Commission

Normal life in four western Odisha districts was hit today due to the four—hour ‘hartal’ by the BJD over the Mahanadi river water dispute and alleged change of stance by the BJP on the issue.

Normal life came to a halt in Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda and Sonepur districts due to the strike in protest against the closure of Kalma barrage gates by Chhattisgarh, which the agitators said severely hit the flow of Mahanadi river water through Odisha.

Shops, business establishments and markets remained closed, while vehicular movement came to a halt during the strike, police said.

The BJD accused the NDA government at the Centre of backing the BJP government in Chhattisgarh. It said that the Chhattisgarh government had constructed six barrages upstream on the river “unilaterally and illegally” which led to dwindling water flow down stream affecting the farmers and others in Odisha.

The bandh observers demanded immediate opening of the gates of Kalma barrage so that the flow of Mahanadi into Odisha from Chhattisgarh does not get affected.

Opposition BJP which initially did not support the Odisha government’s claim that water flow to Hirakud reservoir had been reduced due to construction of projects on upstream of Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh government, changed its stand.

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said pressure must be mounted on the Central Water Commission (CWC) to ensure free flow of water in the river Mahanadi.

“I have taken up the matter relating to fall in the water flow to Odisha during summer with the ministry of water resources. I am also in touch with the CWC. However, pressure needs to be mounted on CWC for protection of Odisha’s interest,” Pradhan told reporters.

As the central government’s negotiation committee had failed to yield any result, a tribunal will now be constituted to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, he said.

Earlier, Pradhan in a letter to Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati had urged her to ask Chhattisgarh government to open gates of Kalma barrage in order to maintain free flow of water downstream.

Union Rural Development Minister Ramkripal Yadav, however, blamed Odisha for the dispute.

“Odisha government is busy in doing politics instead of resolving the matter amicably. Today’s hartal is an eye wash,” Yadav, who is on a visit to the state, told reporters.

Blaming the Centre for the Mahanadi water row, Odisha Congress president Prasad Harichandan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should immediately intervene to resolve the issue.

“As the BJP is in power both at the Centre and in Chhattisgarh, it is the responsibility of the prime minister to resolve the matter,” he said.

Published on June 10, 2017
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