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Talks on Mahanadi water fails, dispute may prolong further



New Delhi, September 17, 2016: The central Government brokered meeting on Mahanadi water dispute failed to yield any result, rather Chhattisgarh and Odisha indicated the war would prolong.

"What is the point of having a dispute, When Mahanadi has a flow from Chhattisgarh, which can fill Hirakud dam five times," said Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh after the tri-partite meeting here with his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik.

The centrally brokered meeting was chaired by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti to find a solution to the Mahanadi river water sharing dispute between both the states.

Odisha has objection to supply of water to 6000 MW worth power plants besides irrigation to 6000 agriculture land, Singh said.

Water Resources Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal had also proposed in the meeting to have a board to discuss the matter on a regular basis as it was not possible for ministers or Chief Ministers from both the states to meet and discuss the issue on a regular basis.

It was agreed in 1983 to have a water board to resolve the dispute but that was never constituted and even discussion were also never took place on the issue, he said.

The Chief Minister had earlier also stated that Hirakud Dam was constructed in 1957 on Mahanadi and it is irrelevant now to raise the issue of Hirakud reservoir and Mahanadi water sharing by Odisha after 59 years, Singh said indicating that his government was not ready to accommodate the demand of the neighbouring state.

To resolve the protracted dispute, on April 28, 1983 the then undivided Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh and his Orissa counterpart Janaki Ballav Pattanaik signed an agreement to constitute a 'board' to look into survey, water sharing and other related issues of Mahanadi. But that never happened and the issue was remained untouched and unresolved.

Water Resources Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal today also accused the Naveen government of "playing politics over the issue".

The issue of Mahanadi water dispute was made a political issue by the Naveen Government just a few months ahead of the Panchayat Poll in Odisha by accusing the BJP government in Chhattisgarh of unilaterally constructing scores of barrages and anicuts to check or divert Mahanadi river water from flowing in to Hirakud reservoir and downstream as Mahanadi is originated from Dhamtari district and has a catchment of 82,432 sq km or its 86 per cent are in Chhattisgarh.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told reporters at Delhi today Mahanadi is the life line of Odisha as a vast area of the state is depending upon Mahanadi for irrigation and drinking water.

"We had also demanded immediate halt to all construction works at Chhattisgarh end," Patnaik said adding he has convened a cabinet meeting at Bhubaneswar tomorrow to discuss the issue and further steps would be taken accordingly.

Body languages of both sides were clearly reflecting that the meeting failed to reach any conclusion and the issue would be prolonged further.

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