Shri Naveen Patnaik Honourable Chief Minister, Odisha
Subject: Urgent steps to safeguard the interest of Odisha on Mahanadi issue.
With considerable anguish, I am writing this letter to you with a request to immediately act upon to save Mahanadi for the people of Odisha, instead of indulging in politicking.
Because of sheer administrative and political callousness of Government of Odisha, the projects undertaken by Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi river and its tributaries are nearing completion. It will result in depriving the people of Odisha their legitimate share of water.
After years of unusual silence, Government of Odisha woke up from deep slumber following public outcry and lodged a complaint only on 19.11.2016 before the Central Government, requesting for constitution of an Inter- State Tribunal in terms of Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956. Not that you did not know about the settled mechanism of dispute resolution of inter-state river dispute, but you cared little to invoke the same on time, as you felt that demonstration by BJD in the State against the Centre would ensure formation of the Tribunal. It was only after you realized that demonstration was not serving your political interests and the people of Odisha were getting sufficiently angry realizing your scheming political ploy, you resorted to writing the letter under reference Soon thereafter, you announced that you had approached the Supreme Court seeking injunction against Chhattishgarh Government over construction of barrages and dams on the upper catchment of Mahanadi river. Nearly two months have elapsed and you have kept the people of Odisha in the dark on the outcome of the Supreme Court case. This strengthened the speculation that you deliberately do not want to expedite the matter, lest your incompetence in managing the crisis is exposed.It took you nearly 11 days to respond to the Central Government Office Memorandum dated 17.1.2017 through which it has constituted a Negotiation Committee to bring a solution to the tenacious dispute. You have rejected the formation of the Committee on grounds that its composition is arbitrary and not in accordance with relevant statutory provisions. While you have rejected the same vide your D.O. No. IJM- 01/2017 dt. 28.1.2017 arguing that Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh are non-contesting riparian states and their inclusion will lack focus and delay the whole process, you have in your concluding paragraph of the same letter shown your openness in convening a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the riparian states with the Prime Minister of India. That is self – contradictory. Notwithstanding this, your request to the Prime Minister on this line could have come much earlier i.e. after the failure of the meeting dated 17.9.2016 convened by Ms Uma Bharati, Minister of Water Resources, GOI.
I strongly believe that your offer to meet the Prime Minister is to further delay the much-deepened crisis on Mahanadi and the request is made in collusion with BJP at the Centre with a view to mislead the people of Odisha.
The BJP is in power at the Centre as well as in Chhattisgarh. Any number of meetings with the Central Government would bring no benefit to the people of Odisha except adding salt to their wounds.
I may only add that Mahanadi is not a political football. Generations to come will not forgive the BJD Government’s complete failure on Mahanadi issue.
Even at this crucial juncture, I urge upon you to initiate strong measures before the Supreme Court and the Centre so that the crisis is brought to a solution acceptable to millions of Odias. You will appreciate that for creating conducive environment for any negotiation or meaningful administrative engagement on the issue, it is a prerequisite to have all construction on Mahanadi and its tributaries stopped forthwith. The same be conveyed to the Central Government in unambiguous terms and be insisted upon. The focus be on formation of Inter-States River Dispute Tribunal and the Central Government be impressed upon to constitute the same at the earliest.