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Mahanadi: Odisha rejects Centre’s plea to form panel

Two-days ago the state government received a letter from the Union Water Resources Ministry stating about setting up of an expert committee to look into the Mahanadi issue without instructing Chhattisgarh to stop construction, Patnaik said in the Assembly.

“We have rejected the proposal of the expert committee as it does not stop construction by Chhattisgarh government and the helpless Union Government,” Patnaik said as treasury bench members hailed the decision.

Such panels will not protect the interest of Odisha and therefore there was no meaning of sending a representative to the expert committee, Patnaik said in a reply to the two-day debate on the Mahanadi water dispute issue in the Assembly.

The Chief Minister lambasted the previous UPA government and the present NDA regime at the Centre.
“The present NDA Sarkar for obvious political reasons is blatantly taking sides with the BJP led Chhattisgarh government. These narrow political consideration in the sensitive inter-state issue jeopardise the interest of Odisha,” he said.

Patnaik said he had put forth the demand to stop construction by Chhattisgarh on upstream of Mahanadi at the November 17 meeting at Delhi but ‘unfortunately’ the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh did not agree and Union Minister Uma Bharti did not support it. He said the Mahanadi problem has been created by the then UPA government at the Centre and BJP government in Chhattisgarh.

Alleging that the UPA government failed to discharge its federal responsibility causing great injustice to the people of Odisha, Patnaik said central funding of some of these projects has made the matter worse.
Both the UPA and NDA governments both financed and approved projects of Chhattisgarh and Pollavaram.

Terming the statement read out by the Chief Minister as “unfortunate”, both Congress and BJP members walked out of the Assembly. “Patnaik spoke like the president of the ruling BJD and not like the chief minister. He did not say what action or steps are being taken to protect the interest of the state,” Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said.

Terming Patnaik’s reply as a “narrow” political statement, the Congress leader said the Chief Minister behaved in a “dictatorial” manner by refusing to accept his own party members’ views in favour of a united fight to safeguard the state’s interests in Mahanadi issue.

During the two-day debate, members of both the opposition parties had extended their support to the state government in the fight to secure Odisha’s rights over Mahanadi river though they had held the chief minister responsible for the situation.

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