Bhubaneswar: Senior Congress leader and former Irrigation minister Niranjan Patnaik on Friday asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take a firm stand in the meeting with Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi project issue.
“I welcome your meeting with the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh under the aegis of the Union Minister for water Resources on September 17 and hope that the two states will soon be able to agree to a just solution to the sharing of Mahanadi waters,” said Patnaik in a letter to the Chief Minister.
Niranjan’s letter comes at a time when the state government is preparing its stand before the Union Water Resources Ministry on 17 September.
Giving the recent example of all party delegation to Kashmir and all party meeting in Karnataka over Cauvery waters, Niranjan said that an all-party delegation should have been sent to Chhattisgarh and Delhi and the state should have presented a united picture on a matter of state interest.
He said Hirakud was a national project and it is the responsibility of the national government to protect the catchment area of Mahanadi.
Hirakud must not be allowed to die a silent death, and Centre must restore status quo ante. There is a need to ensure that there is no obstruction to the summer water flow because that will have debilitating effect in the years with deficient monsoon impacting agriculture, drinking water, and power generation, said the former PCC chief.
“We must take necessary remedial measures under the law regarding the formation of the River Board with the necessary legal teeth to enforce a fair arrangement, or we should request the Supreme Court to constitute a Tribunal for a just solution,” suggested Patnaik.
Niranjan has demanded that the 1983 agreement between Madhya Pradesh and Odisha should not be neglected given what has happened to Mahanadi waters.
“I am gravely concerned at the long-term implications of our failure in this regard,” he said.
In his letter, the former PCC President asked for the revival of the Manibhadra project or construction of a high-level canal on the Hirakud left Dyke to move surplus water in monsoon period to Tikira River for generating hydro-power, which then joins Bramhani and would make available additional water for irrigation.
“If Chhattisgarh has been hyper-active in using Mahanadi waters, we cannot be mute spectators. Otherwise, Chhattisgarh will keep claiming that we do not need the water as we are merely allowing them to be drained to the Bay of Bengal, ” said Patnaik.