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Dam protests from July 25

The BJD will stage demonstrations in 15 districts between July 25 and August 11 to highlight the "unilateral" decision of the Chhattisgarh government to build several barrages on the Mahanadi.

By Subhashish Mohanty in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 24.07.16
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Bhubaneswar, July 23: The BJD will stage demonstrations in 15 districts between July 25 and August 11 to highlight the "unilateral" decision of the Chhattisgarh government to build several barrages on the Mahanadi.

The river that originates from Chhattisgarh traverses through 15 districts of Odisha before it merges with the Bay of Bengal.

Western Odisha Development Council chairman Kishore Mohanty, Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya and BJD youth wing president and minister Sanjay Das Burma today said the BJD would "intensify its agitation until the project is stopped by Chhattisgarh".

"Storage of water at the upper end will affect power production at the Hirakud dam and also the irrigation facilities of the state. It is a major source of drinking water for several districts," said a BJD leader.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik raised the issue at the meeting of the inter-state council on July 16, and BJD MPs boycotted Parliament proceedings on July 20 demanding an adjournment over the issue.

The Lok Sabha is scheduled to discuss the contentious issue on July 26.

BJD vice-president and excise minister Damodar Rout said: "The BJP is playing a dangerous game. After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he accorded 'national status' to the Polavaram project. If the BJP-ruled Chhattisgrh government goes ahead with its plan, Odisha will be badly hit."

A state government official said: "Over the years, Chhattisgarh has built seven pick-up weirs across the river. Besides, seven diversion weirs have been constructed on the Arpa river, a tributary of the Seonath that flows into the Mahanadi. Besides, three irrigation projects have come up in the Mahanadi and its tributaries in Chhattisgarh."

Engineer-in-chief of the water resources department Janaki Ballava Mohapatra said: "Two senior officials will visit Chhattisgarh on July 25 and study the impact of the projects coming up on the upper stream of the river."

On the basis of their report, the state government will approach the Central Water Commission against the projects being built by Chhattisgarh.

The BJD's decision to take up the Mahanadi river issue in a big way has forced the state BJP to be on the backfoot.

"The state government does not have proper data about the projects in Chhattisgarh," BJP MLA from west Odisha Pradeep Purohit said. "The BJD is simply trying to politicise the issue."