20 July, New Delhi
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) members on Wednesday demanded that the central government should take steps to stop construction of a barrage by BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh government on the Mahanadi river, and said the state of Odisha is “shocked” by the development.
“This is really unfortunate that in our federal system the interests of the people of Odisha have been completely neglected. We are shocked,” BJD floor leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said in the Lok Sabha, raising the issue during zero hour.
“Mahanadi contributes maximum irrigation in our state. Lives and livelihood of the farmers of 15 districts, including Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Bolangir, are fully dependent on Mahanadi,” he said.
Mahtab demanded that “immediate steps” should be taken by the union government to stop construction of this barrage and reservoir in Chhattisgarh.
He maintained the Mahanadi river has a “direct impact on more than 50 per cent of our population and indirectly through subsidiaries has an impact on around 65 per cent of the population of our state”.
“The Central Water Commission has remained a silent spectator when they are expected to be neutral and should play a proactive role in safeguarding the interest of the farmers of the riparian state of Odisha,” he said.
Criticising the Chhattisgarh government for launching construction activities without taking into account the interests of the people of Odisha, Mahtab said: “Environment Ministry should take up the issue on behalf of the people of Odisha… 65 per cent of our population is going to get affected if this dam is constructed. The central government should take steps to stop the construction of the barrage.”
Earlier in the day, BJD members staged a demonstration in Parliament House complex.
Mahtab recalled that there was “an agreement” in 1983 between the then governments of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha as to how the river water is to be shared if at all any new embankments or new reservoirs are to be constructed.