The Centre has urged the Odisha government to settle the Mahanadi water-sharing dispute with Chhattisgarh through dialogue rather than moving a tribunal to resolve such conflicts.
Responding to a series of supplementaries from BJD members in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour on Thursday, Union Water Resources minister Nitin Gadkari said while the Centre is bound by law to set up a tribunal to settle inter-state water disputes, it would be better if the state government approached the Centre for a dialogue, PTI reported. He further said that the state government can meet the Prime Minister if it is not satisfied.
Gadkari said that while Odisha is free to move a tribunal or the Supreme Court to settle the matter, records show that moving a tribunal only delays a solution and water disputes stay unresolved for 20 to 30 years. The minister further said that he has written to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik to meet him to discuss the dispute.
But BJD members said as the Centre was not restraining Chhattisgarh from constructing irrigation projects on river Mahanadi, it wants a tribunal to be formed so that the quasi-judicial body can direct Chhattisgarh to stop further construction.
Gadkari said the Centre refrains from restraining states from constructing small projects.
According to PTI, a BJP member from Chhattisgarh accused the BJD of politicising the issue, leading to a war of words between the BJP and BJD members. While Odisha has a BJD government, Chhattisgarh is ruled by BJP.
BJD’s B Mahtab claimed that the Speaker should not have said that his party was politicising the issue. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she never made such remarks and such allegations should not be levelled against her.
A Bill which seeks to create a single tribunal for all inter-state water disputes is pending approval of the Lok Sabha. Currently, various water disputes are handled by separate tribunals as per law.