Intensifying its stir against alleged unilateral construction of projects on Mahanadi river, the ruling BJD today halted a number of Chhattishgarh-bound goods trains besides launching a relay hunger strike before the Central Water Commission (CWC) branch office here.
BJD MLAs along with party workers blocked the rail tracks and demonstrated in front of the trains in Balasore, Berhampur, Raja Athagarh, Sambalpur, Bolangir, Rourkela and Jharsuguda stations.
The Chhattisgarh-bound goods trains were halted for about 30 minutes by BJD workers as a mark of protest against the state government’s act of undertaking construction of barrages, dams and other other projects on upstream of Mahanadi river without consulting Odisha which is a co-basin state, BJD youth wing president and minister Sanjay Dasburma said.
“We have been demanding stopping of work on all ongoing projects by Chhattisgarh government. The party has decided to continue their stir for 100 days if the neighbouring state does not stop anti-Odisha projects on the river,” he said.
Besides Dasburma, Industries minister Debi Prasad Mishra, Tourism minister Ashok Chandra Panda and other senior leaders of the ruling party also participated in an agitation before the CWC’s Odisha branch office here.
“Chhatisgarh prepared the master plan of the projects without consulting Odisha as a co-basin state. On the Kelo project, the CWC had not named Odisha in its 95th meeting while the Water Resources Departments of other states were informed,” Mishra said, adding the neighbouring state only consulted Odisha on Arpa-Bhainshjar project recently.
Though Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has been claiming that the state utilises only 25 per cent of water, but in reality they took about 37.5 per cent water, Mishra said, claiming that the neighbouring state has been planning to forcibly draw 88 per cent of Mahanadi water in the future.
Meanwhile, opposition BJP in a separate press conference came down heavily on the BJD government and dubbed it as “liar” for allegedly giving “wrong facts” on the Mahanadi water dispute.
BJP general secretary Bhrugu Baxipatra said Chhattisgarh had communicated to Odisha about the construction of the project way back in 2006.
“Three documents had been exchanged between the two states over the same project. The Odisha government says it had not received any letter. But there had been an internal communication among the state officials after receiving the letter from Chhattisgarh,” Buxipatra said.
BJD spokesperson P K Deb, however, rejected the BJP’s allegation and said, “The state government stands by its earlier version. The Kelo project was cleared by the CWC by keeping Odisha in the dark.”