Odisha rejects Centre’s panel for water dispute

Bhubaneswar, Jan 28 (IANS) Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday rejected the panel formed by the Centre to resolve the ongoing Mahanadi water sharing dispute with neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

The Negotiating Committee will only delay the setting up of a Tribunal which will allow Chhattisgarh to complete the construction of the disputed projects, said the Chief Minister in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I also wish to state that the Committee is not in accordance with the provisions of Sec 4(1) of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 and its composition is arbitrary,” he said.

Patnaik requested the Prime Minister to instruct the Ministry of Water Resources to withdraw the office memorandum constituting the committee and initiate the constitution of a Tribunal, reasoning that water disputes raised in the statutory complaint of Odisha government cannot be resolved by negotiations.

Patnaik also raised concern regarding Centre’s nomination of Engineer in Chief of Odisha into the committee , saying the state should have been the authority to choose its representatives in the panel.

“The negotiation should be between constitutional functionaries and if any nomination of official is permissible, the chief secretary or the principal secretary in the water resources department should be the nominee,” he said.

He also urged Modi to direct the Chhattisgarh government to stop ongoing works on the Mahanadi river basin immediately.

“However, as a last and final chance to settle the dispute by negotiations, I am open to attend a meeting at your level, if the meeting of the Chief Ministers of the riparian states is called immediately,” said the Chief Minister.

–IANS

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