Centre today attempted to resolve Mahanadi river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh at a trilateral meeting here but Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was not happy and said his government will decide tomorrow on steps to safeguard the state’s interests.
At the meeting convened by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, it was decided that a committee would be formed to examine dam projects in the two states including those on Mahanadi, sharing of whose water has become a matter of dispute between them, to see if rules were flouted during their construction.
Patnaik said he wanted Chhattisgarh to immediately stop work on its barrages but his demand was not accepted at the meeting which was also attended by his counterpart Raman Singh.
“I have called a meeting of the Cabinet in Bhubaneswar tomorrow. We will decide steps to take. We will leave no stone unturned in the interest of people of Odisha,” he said.
Earlier, Bharti said the decision to form the committee was taken “amicably”.
“A committee will be formed under officer on special duty to examine all the projects of Chhattisagarh and Odisha which are eligible to be first studied by technical advisory committee (TAC), but are being built without TAC’s go ahead
“The committee under OSD will study data from the two states within a week to see if rules were flouted while constructing the projects,” Bharti told reporters.
The committee, which will also have officials from the two states as their members, will study the projects within a week. Two teams will be sent to the two states to gather data.
The Union Minister said another committee will be formed, as proposed by Odisha government, to study situation in Mahanadi basin/catchment area during monsoon and non-monsoon period.
“If the committee says, a board will be set up to settle disputes. The committee will be headed by Water Resources Ministry official and will have officials from both states, Water Resources Ministry officials and environmentalists as its members,” she added.
Patnaik claimed that the barrages being constructed by Chhattisgarh government on Mahanadi will affect drinking water and irrigation facilities in Odisha, a concern which was downplayed by Singh.
Among other things, Bharti said Chhattisgarh proposed setting up of a gauge station by Central Water Commission at a point where Mahanadi enters Odisha to know amount of water flows to latter. “Odisha has backed the proposal,” she added.