Odisha requests Centre to resolve Mahanadi, Polavaram water issues

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reiterated his demand for the formation of Tribunal to resolve the ongoing Mahanadi river water dispute with Chhattisgarh.

The Chief Minister, who participated the 12th Standing Committee meeting of the Inter-State Council in New Delhi, also urged to discontinue Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh as it will impact a large number of people in hinterland tribal district of Malkangiri adversely.

“I urged in the meeting to take urgent action to stop the unilateral construction activities in Chhattisgarh in Mahanadi basin and constitute a Tribunal without further delay to address the problem,” Patnaik said after attending the meeting.

Mentioning that people of Odisha are hugely dependent on the waters of river Mahanadi, he expressed serious concern that the flow in the river Mahanadi in the downstream state of Odisha has dipped alarmingly on account of the unilateral action of construction activities undertaken by Chhattisgarh.

He mentioned that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy fixed by Government of India at Rs.1470 per quintal is not commensurate with the rising cost of inputs and the non-remunerative MSP acts as a deterrent to doubling farmers’ income.

He urged to take up the matter with the Ministry of Agriculture and consider the proposal of Odisha government to fix the MSP of common paddy at Rs.2930 per quintal in the interest of farmers of the state.

The Chief Minister highlighted that the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) poses the biggest threat to the internal security and impressed upon the committee to ensure equitable distribution and deployment of central forces, funds and logistic support and not insist upon reimbursement of the cost of deployment of central forces in the LWE affected states.

The Chief Minister requested that the royalty on coal which was due for revision in April 2015 should be revised upwards at the earliest.

He mentioned that at least 60 percent of the clean environment cess should be earmarked for the coal-bearing states which have to bear the cost of environmental degeneration and rehabilitation.

Informing that low telecom connectivity and poor financial inclusion remain major concerns of Odisha, he added that 70 percent of Odisha’s Gram Panchayats do not have any bank presence and only 221 branches have been opened in last three years.

He emphasised that the goal of digital payment may not be realised unless there is an appreciable improvement of connectivity in Odisha.