A day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked Chhattisgarh to open Kalma barrage gates for free water flow in Mahanadi river, senior BJP leader and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said he would take up the matter with the Central Water Commission. “I will take up the matter relating to Kalma barrage gates with the Union Water Resources Ministry and Central Water Commission to ensure that flow of water in Mahanadi river through Odisha is not affected,” Pradhan told reporters.
The Union Petroleum Minister further said that he would also take up the issue with the Chhattisgarh government on behalf of the BJP in order to safeguard the interests of the people of Odisha. Water required by the people for drinking purpose as also the farmers’ need for irrigation in the state must be secured, he said adding people and farmers of Odisha would not be allowed to suffer due to water scarcity.
Meanwhile, BJD spokesperson and Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare Minister S N Patro said any dispute over water sharing between two states needs to be resolved in a democratic and federal set-up under inter-state principles by organisations like Central Water Commission (CWC).
If the dispute remained unresolved, the state would have to approach the Central Government and if nothing concrete emerges it may move the Supreme Court, he said.
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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik yesterday urged Chhattishgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to ensure free flow of water down stream of Mahanadi river by opening the gates of Kalma barrage, one of the six major barrages allegedly constructed unilaterally by the neighbouring state. “You are requested to instruct the officials of your water resources department to immediately open the gates of Kalma barrage and ensure free flow of water in Mahanadi river,” Patnaik said in a letter to Singh.
Stating that Kalma barrage was one of the six barrages unilaterally taken up by Chhattishgarh across the inter-state river Mahanadi without any reference or regard to the downstream interests of Odisha and its inhabitants, Patnaik said, “The report available with my government definitely convey that your government has gone ahead and closed the gates of Kalma barrage stopping free flow of water.”
In downstream areas of Odisha, the action has affected the drinking water supply of people in Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Bargarh districts and many other districts have been affected, he said. There is “widespread unrest” due to the “unilateral action”, Patnaik said adding “This unrest may go out of hand, if free flow downstream of Kalma barrage in Mahanadi river is not restored immediately.”