Bhubaneswar, Aug. 6: The BJD today said the state government had never rejected the suggestion to set up a joint control board to resolve differences with Chhattisgarh on sharing of the Mahanadi river water.
Earlier, Union minister of state for petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan had accused Odisha of not co-operating in the board formation, according to the 1983 water sharing agreement between Odisha and the then Madhya Pradesh government. Refuting Pradhan's claim, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb today briefed about his party members' proposed two-day visit to Chhattisgarh from tomorrow.
Deb said: "We did not agree to the board's formation instantly as we did not have detailed information about the projects undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government. Once we obtain all the information from Chhattisgarh, we will discuss the issue and go for setting up of the Joint Control Board."
Chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi could not be contacted for his comments on the deliberations at the meeting, which he attended with his Chhattisgarh counterpart and officials of the Union ministry of water resources on July 29. The meet aimed to find a mechanism to deal with all water dispute arising out of the Mahanadi and its tributaries.
Pradhan had said that during the meeting, the Odisha chief secretary initially agreed to the proposal to have the board, but he backed out later. "We still wonder what prompted him to back out from the proposal. The BJD government probably felt that it would expose its wrongdoings," Pradhan had said.
Deb told reporters they had informed the Chhattisgarh government about the visit of a 12-member committee, headed by Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya. "So far, no communication has been received from their side," he said.
The BJD panel's aim is to visit various project sites in Chhattisgarh. "Unless they give the consent, we cannot go ahead for site inspection," he said.
A Congress delegation, led by Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra, visited Chhattisgarh on July 26, and the Chhattisgarh government briefed the team.
The BJD plans to visit the Kelo and Arpa-Bhaisajhar barrage projects in the first phase. Odisha is opposed to the Kelo project as the Central Water Commission had it cleared at the 95th Technical Advisory Committee meeting without inviting Odisha. The project has already been over. The party wants to know the impact of the Arpa-Bhaisajhar barrage project on the Hirakud reservoir.
In the second phase, the BJD team plans to visit the Tendula reservoir augmentation project and the Piary-Mahanadi intra-state link project.
In another development, the CPM today decided to stage demonstration on the issue outside the Governor House on August 11. "We will present a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the governor urging him to intervene and stop all construction activities on the Mahanadi river undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government," said CPM leader Janardan Pati.
Besides, the BJD's Jajpur district unit today staged a demonstration outside the district collectorate on the issue.