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Non-BJP parties reject Centre's negotiation comm on Mahanadi




 Even as all non-BJP political parties including the ruling BJD today rejected the Centre's decision of setting up a negotiation committee to assess the availability and utilisation of waters in the Mahanadi river and its tributaries, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati refuted allegations the Centre was ‘over looking’ the interest of the State.

The parties, instead, demanded immediate formation of a tribunal as per law of the land to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute, which was caused allegedly due to "unilateral" construction of projects on upstream of the river by neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

Stating that the Centre's move on constituting a committee comes after protests in Odisha over Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh being chosen as a star campaigner by BJP for the ensuing rural polls, the BJD said the state government's demand to stop work was not yet implemented.

"The fear that the opposition towards Raman Singh by all parties except BJP and the public of the state, has led to the sudden announcement of forming a committee over the Mahanadi issue. We are yet to receive the terms of reference," said BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

While the intervention of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary were ignored by the Centre, this committee will be yet another futile exercise, Deb said alleging "In the process, Chhattisgarh will be given opportunity to finish the project in the name of the committee."

The Congress and the CPI(M) also rejected the Centre's decision of setting up a negotiation committee terming it as a ploy to delay the formation of a tribunal to resolve the matter.

"We demand formation of a tribunal as per law and not a committee to further engage in talking," the CPI(M) said in a statement.

"We have decided to reject the committee and demand formation of a tribunal to resolve the matter," said Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati.

The Samajwadi Party has moved the State Election Commission (SEC) seeking its direction and asking the Centre to withdraw such a committee as it violated Model Code of Conduct for the panchayat elections.

A four-member delegation led by Samajwadi Party state president Rabi Behera has submitted a petition to the SEC alleging the Negotiation Committee formed by the Centre to resolve Mahanadi Water Dispute Issue was a violation of MCC.

The BJP on its part welcomed the Centre's decision and said the committee was formed to resolve the matter.

Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati told reporters in New Delhi that the allegations that Centre ignored the interest of Odisha was ‘unfounded’.

“The NDA government is committed to protect the interest of the State. We are ready to sacrifice our lives  to safeguard Odisha’s interest at any cost. Such allegations are inappropriate and unfounded,” Uma said.






Editorial

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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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