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Governor proposes, state govt disposes

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 12: The state government today rejected governor M.C. Bhandare’s proposal to appoint a new committee to look into the mismanagement of the Hirakud reservoir system that caused the first phase of floods in the Mahanadi river last month.

State water resources secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said: “A committee is already there to look into issues pertaining to the Hirakud reservoir. The committee was constituted in 2009 on the advice of the governor. Hence, there is no need to constitute another technical committee. All information relating to water management of the Hirakud reservoir would be soon submitted to the committee.”

The governor had written a letter to the state government asking it to appoint an expert of national repute to study whether the first phase of flood on the Mahanadi river system occurred because of mismanagement on part of the Hirakud reservoir system. He also suggested a lawyer be included in the team.

However, the government continues to refute the Opposition’s charge of reservoir mismanagement.

Officials said the floods were triggered by heavy rains in the upper catchment area of the Mahanadi river in Chhattisgarh.

The Telegraph, in its September 16 edition, carried a detailed report on Hiarkud’s management stimulating a debate on whether the current flood could be attributed to human error.

Next day, it carried another report on the Opposition’s demand for a techno-judicial inquiry into the “man-made” disaster.

Claiming that there was no mismanagement of the reservoir system, Mohapatra said: “All data relating to the Hirakud water management were placed by the governor. The information included maintaining the rule curve, inflow and outflow of water from the reservoir during that period, particularly on and after September 5.”

The government also informed the governor that there was no mismanagement of the Hirakud reservoir and the existing committee was competent to make a probe into the issue as retired chief engineers and engineers were members of the committee.

“The present committee has enough expertise on the Mahanadi river system. They will conduct a study on the technical aspect on the water management of the Hirakud. They will give suggestion to the government on long-term solution to the issues related to the management of Hirakud reservoir,” he said.

Union minister of state for agriculture Harish Rawat, during his visit to the state on September 17, said the floods from which the state was reeling could have been avoided with better co-ordination between the Orissa and Chhattisgarh governments.

On a day’s visit to the state to take stock of the flood situation, Rawat had said he would urge the Central Water Commission to set up a hot line between Chhattisgarh and Orissa to regulate the water flow into the Hirakud reservoir, especially during the rains.

Union minister for chemical and fertilisers Srikant Jena, after his meeting with the central team last week, said he also got allegations that the flood on the Mahanadi river belt was a man-made one. “I have also written a letter to the Central Water Commission to probe into the allegations. If the allegation comes true, stringent action would be taken against the erring officials.”

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