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Centre constitutes committee on Mahanadi water sharing




 The Union Government has constituted a committee to asses availability and utilization of Mahanadi and tributaries water.

According to an official statement, the committee formed by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation will also examine the existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and consider the claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.

The committee has been set up with reference to complaint of State of Odisha under section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahanadi Basin, the statement said adding it will be chaired by Member (WP&P), Central Water Commission.

The committee will also have 11 other members comprising representatives from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Union Ministries of Agriculture, Environment Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, India Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission, it added.

The committee will submit its report within three months.

Notably, the State government has approached the Supreme Court for a tribunal to adjudicate on the water sharing row arising due to the construction of barrages by Chhattisgarh government upstream.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told the State Assembly that State government has filed an original suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution of India.

The State also sought an injunction against Chhattisgarh from continuing works on ongoing projects and from taking up future projects.

"We have claimed as a part of equitable share a minimum flow of 12.28 million acre feet of Mahanadi water at Hirakud as per the detailed project report of Hirakud project and a further utilization of 3.67 million acre feet in the surplus flow," Naveen told the Assembly.

He said the illegal action of Chhattisgarh government in unilaterally planning and constructing projects and barrages in the upper catchment of Mahanadi would spell socio-economic and ecological hazard to our state and its inhabitants.

State government on November 22 last year filed a statutory complaint before the Centre seeking a tribunal under the Interstate Water Dispute Act, 1956 to solve the row.

As per the 1956 Act, the Centre may form it within a year if it feels the dispute can't be settled through negotiations. The state's injunction plea is intended to prevent Chhattisgarh from undertaking works since formation of the tribunal may take time.

Odisha has been demanding that Chhattisgarh stop all construction activities of on-going projects immediately and the Ministry of Environment and Forests should review clearance given for the projects on the basis of what is actually going on in the ground and not on the information provided by Chhattisgarh.

After a tripartite meeting on the dispute in New Delhi chaired by Union water resources minister Uma Bharti on September 17 failed, Naveen had said the state will explore legal options.

An all-party meeting convened by Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra here in this regard demanded that a tribunal be set up by the Centre to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute involving Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

About 50 leaders from political parties, barring the ruling Biju Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party, attended the meeting convened by Mishra.

Blaming the BJD government for it had not taken up the issue with the Chhattisgarh government and the Centre in the past, leaders of the opposition parties demanded that the Odisha government should issue a white paper on the Mahanadi issue without delay.

The leaders also stressed the need for formation of a joint water control board involving the Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments as was proposed way back in 1983 to oversee sharing of Mahanadi waters by the two States.

A joint committee met State Governor SC Jamir on August 10 and submit a memorandum addressed to the President of India seeking his intervention in resolving the dispute.

Mishra had convened the all-party meeting after he visited several ongoing project sites in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

The ruling BJD activists agitated against the Chhattisgarh government’s projects and stopped the Chhattisgarh-bound goods trains at various stations of the State.

The BJD party also staged a relay hunger strike in front of the local office of the Central Water Commission (CWC) in Bhubaneswar to highlight its demands alleging that the Chhattisgarh government started the Kelo project in the upper catchment of Hirakud reservoir by keeping Odisha government in the dark.

However, the BJP has criticised the BJD government over its claim that it was completely in the dark about the Kelo project in Chhattisgarh.

State Unit president Basant Panda said the move has confirmed the sincerity of the Centre to resolve the issue.

“The Centre has also constituted a committee to resolve issues concerning river water disputes in the country,” Panda added.

He said the BJD is trying to mislead the people of the State in the garb of ‘protecting the interest of the farmers’.






Editorial

Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.

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