Centre says no to river tribunal in SC

The Mahanadi river

Bhubaneswar: The Centre on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that there was no point in constituting a tribunal to settle the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh at this juncture as the Naveen Patnaik government was not providing necessary information in the matter.

The Odisha government has been demanding constitution of a tribunal for the last one-year and even approached the Supreme Court on the issue.

Later the apex court had asked the Centre to submit an affidavit on the issue by November 19.

Central government counsel Wasim A Kadri told The Telegraph over phone: "The Centre in its affidavit said that Odisha government was not cooperating with it in resolving the dispute and hence here was no point in constituting a tribunal at this juncture."

He said: "We made our stand clear about non-cooperation from the state before the court that will take a final decision on the matter. We are not getting information that we want from the state, including data on water flow and water requirement."

The issue also echoed in the Assembly on Wednesday. Senior BJD MLA Sanjay Das Burma said: "We have reports that the Centre has rejected the state's demand to form a tribunal. They have also submitted an affidavit to this effect in the Supreme Court. This is unfortunate."

Das Burma said: "The Centre in its affidavit has said that Odisha's demand for a tribunal should be referred to the unified tribunal that is being planned in the near future. This is only a delaying tactics and Odisha's interests would not be protected."

Demanding the constitution of an Assembly committee to take up the Mahanadi issue, Das Burma said: "An expert committee should be constituted comprising engineers, intellectuals and members from civil society. They should study the ground reality in both the states and submit an independent report on the issue."

BJD MLA Debi Prasad Mishra said: "As Chhattisgarh is going to have elections next year, the Centre is delaying the formation of a tribunal."

Earlier, speaking on the issue in the Assembly leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra said: "Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should call an all-party meeting on the issue. All should rise above party politics to protect the interests of the state."

BJP legislature party leader K.V. Singh Deo said: "The state government has failed to provide required data to the Centre on the issue. Only filing of an 800-page report is not enough."

Parliamentary affairs minister Bikram Keshari Arukh, who was replying to the debate on behalf of the chief minister, accused the Centre of ignoring the interests of Odisha.


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