Modi puts onus on Odisha Government for Mahanadi crisis


(Online Desk)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday slammed the BJD Government in Odisha for failing to harness Mahanadi river water during the last 18 years of its rule.Listing out the achievements of the NDA Government at the Centre on completion of four years at the Bali Jatra Ground here, the Prime Minister said the State Government had admitted in the Assembly that more than half of Mahanadi water flows into the Bay of Bengal.

By raking up the Mahanadi issue, which has been a bone of contention between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the Prime Minister has given the State BJP a much-needed boost to its Mission 120+ in the State because the BJD Government has used the water dispute as a major issue and mounted a massive State-wide campaign against the saffron party.

Modi said the State Government did not cooperate with the Centre when it wanted to resolve the dispute through negotiation. Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had written a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in this regard but Odisha Government did not come forward, he added.

Not only Mahanadi, he said, the Odisha Government also failed to harness water of five other big rivers in the State.

The BJD Government, he said, has left the farmers to fend for themselves as Mahanadi river water could not be tapped for irrigation.Referring to the delay in completion of irrigation projects in the State, Modi said the people want to know why the Lower Indra Project, which was started 20 years back, is yet to be completed.

He also took potshots at the health care sector stating that it is a cause of concern in Eastern India. The Prime Minister said embarrassing pictures from tribal areas surface through media, particularly from Odisha. “By remaining in power for so many years, what work the State Government (BJD government) has done?,” he asked.

However, Modi targeted Odisha Government towards the end of his speech in which he mostly dealt with grand alliance against the BJP and particularly the Congress. Except for river and health issues, the Prime Minister did not touch other areas which the State BJP has targeted repeatedly. As the exchanges between the two parties were mostly adversarial in the run up to Modi’s visit, political observers had expected the Prime Minister to be more strident against the Naveen Patnaik Government.

BJD refutes PM claim:  Meanwhile, the BJD has rejected the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the State Government ignored the initiative by Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari to resolve the Mahanadi river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

When Gadkari took over as the Union Water Resources Minister, the case over the Mahanadi river water dispute filed by the Odisha Government in the Supreme Court was in hearing stage, BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Pratap Deb told mediapersons here.

Besides, the Central minister agreed to formation of tribunal in Parliament but the Centre took a different stand in the court, he said.