Odisha CM urges Modi to help end Hirakud dam dispute with Chhattisgarh

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday raised the Hirakud multi-purpose project in the Mahanadi basin with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought his help in resolving the water sharing dispute with Chhattisgarh.

Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik met the Prime Minister here and raised a host of issues including the impact of Hirakud project, a source said, adding that Modi “assured” him that he would “look into the matter”.

Earlier this year, Patnaik had also written to Modi expressing his concern over structures and proposed irrigation projects across the Mahanadi river.

The Hirakud multi-purpose project in the Mahanadi basin has been hanging fire for long and spoiling relations between the two states.

The Mahanadi river contributes the maximum to irrigation in Odisha and the livelihood of farmers in several districts, including Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Bolangir, is dependent on the river.

Odisha politicians, cutting across party lines, believe that the project would harm the interest of the farmers in their state.

However, from time to time the BJP-led Chhattisgarh government has maintained that the dam project would not affect the interests of the neighbouring state and also that the state of Chhattisgarh has been “utilising only its legitimate share” of water.

Chhattisgarh has also said that it “respects” the Inter-State River waters sharing pact.

In the monsoon session of Parliament, Biju Janata Dal members had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on July 26 through a calling attention motion and tried to corner Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and the Minister of State Sanjev Balyan.

Among others, BJD leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab, Tathagatha Sathpathy and Kalikesh Singh Deo alleged discrimination by the Centre as Odisha was run by a regional party government and had chosen “a different socio-political path”.

During the debate in the monsoon session of Parliament, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti had said that “Odisha is a “priya (beloved) state” for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance regime government.

“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a slogan of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (A government with all and for development of all). And thus we will try to take all the states along,” Bharti had said.

According to sources, while the Odisha Chief Minister favoured firm action against black money and fake currency, he also told the Prime Minister that the central government should do enough to mitigate the problems and hardships faced by common people due to cash shortage in the wake of demonetisation of high value currency notes.