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Naveen for constitution of tribunal to resolve Kalma barrage row with C’garh




 Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today shot off a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking constitution of a tribunal to resolve Odisha’s dispute with neighbouring Chhattisgarh over Kalma barrage. 

Terming Chhattisgarh’s act of building barrages across the inter-State Mahanadi river including Kalma barrage a high handed one, Patnaik said, “These barrages among other disputed works are a subject matter of the complaint preferred by my State on 19.11.2016 to the Central government seeking constitution of an Inter State Tribunal under the provisions of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act of 1956”.

He added despite passage of more than six months, no steps have been taken by the Central government allowing the upstream State of Chhattisgarh to uninterruptedly go ahead with the disputed projects in Mahanadi river basin. “My State has also approached the  Supreme Court and on the last occasion while adjourning the matter to July 25, 2017, has requested the Additional Solicitor General representing the Central government to take instructions on the formation of a Tribunal as demanded”, the chief minister stated.

He added that Odisha’s Water Resources Department recently witnessed an alarming  situation  due to the dwindling  flow of water into Hirakud Reservoir. “On inquiry, it was learnt that the upstream State of Chhattisgarh while opposing the formation of a Tribunal (which unfortunately seems to have been entertained by the Union Ministry of Water Resources) has gone ahead and erected the gates of Kalma barrage and then closed the same blocking the free flow of water to my downstream State of Odisha and its inhabitants causing huge unrest in the border districts on account of reduction of flow into Hirakud reservoir resulting in scarcity of drinking water in summer months”, Patnaik said.

 The chief minister said on June 3, 2017, he had written to his counterpart Raman Singh for immediate opening of the gates of Kalma barrage in order to ensure free flow of water in the downstream of Mahanadi. “But, till date neither I have received any official response from him nor has he got the gates opened restoring the free flow of water”, he added.

Patnaik urged the Prime Minister for immediate constitution of the Tribunal and reference of the complaint dated 19.11.2016 for adjudication. “I also urge for your goodself, being head of the federal system, to intervene by instructing the upstream State of Chhattisgarh to stop the construction of barrages on Inter State Mahanadi river and to open the gates of Kalma and other barrages to maintain the free flow of water downstream which is the rightful claim of my State of Odisha and its inhabitants”, he stated in his letter.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh today dared Odisha government to knock the doors of the Central Water Commission (CWC) if it has any problem on release of water through Kalma barrage.

“It is not a fight between the states. The decision on how much water each state will get is decided by the CWC, not us or Odisha. If anyone has any problem they must approach CWC. Chhattisgarh has constructed all small and big dams with CWC permission,” claimed the chief minister of Chhattisgarh.

“As such there is no water flow in summer. Mahanadi has water flow for only four months in a year. It is only a sand bank throughout the rest of the year,” said Singh. The State government, on the other hand, said it will indeed take up the issue with the Central government, CWC and Supreme Court.

“The versions of the Kalma Dam chief engineer and the Chhattisgarh CM are contradictory. The Odisha government will raise the issue at all platforms,” said BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Keshari Deb. 






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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