Chhattisgarh industries minister Amar Agarwal said the construction of barrages in that state on Mahanadi river was not a recent development and Odisha government was politicising the issue to “mislead” people, a charge which elicited sharp response from the ruling BJD. Construction of barrages in Chhattisgarh on the inter-state river was taken up many years ago, Agarwal said last night and asked the Odisha government to explain why it was silent all these years. Slamming the Odisha government for raising the river water issue now, he said “BJD is simply trying to politicise the issue and mislead the people. “The Mahanadi issue was raked up by the BJD all of a sudden since the party realised that it was fast losing its popularity and grip over the people. The regional party is playing with people’s emotions,” Agarwal said at ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ programme to mark three years of BJP-led government at the Centre at Sambalpur last night. The barrages were constructed on Mahanadi in Chhattisgarh by collecting water cess for about 15 years in advance, Agarwal told reporters. Asked whether the barrages were constructed by Chhattisgarh without obtaining Central Water Commission’s approval, Agarwal said the Chhattisgarh government never received any notice from CWC on the matter. He claimed that industrial houses are not sponsoring construction of barrages on the Mahanadi river. The projects were taken up on PPP mode and funds raised through collection of water cess in advance were being utilised for the purpose.
The water from the barrages were also being used for irrigation purpose in the state, Agarwal said. Reacting sharply to the Chhattisgarh minister’s statement, BJD vice-president Prasanna Acharya said here today that Agarwal’s remarks exposed the “real face and double standards” of the BJP government in the neighbouring state. Chhattisgarh’s action was “arbitrary and illegal”, he said adding its leaders have been making contradictory statements on the Mahanadi river water issue and their main aim was to benefit industrial houses. Hitting out at BJP over the issue, Acharya, also a Rajya Sabha MP, said the NDA government at the Centre has been acting as a silent spectator and had not taken any concrete step to resolve Mahanadi river water dispute.