Mahanadi water dispute: BJP’s Dharmendra Pradhan hits out at Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, says Odisha’s rights can’t be compromised

Amid the ongoing Mahanadi water war between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, BJP leader and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has slammed state chief minister Raman Singh for his recent comments claiming rights over the river water. Pradhan said that Odisha Pradhan said that Raman Singhs remark on the Mahanadi issue is deplorable. The people here have been saying that Chhattisgarh has a committed mistake. I also admit it, he added. Asked whether Chhattisgarh was right in constructing barrages on the Mahanadi upstream unilaterally, Pradhan said it is a mistake and the tribunal would take appropriate action for such acts. Pradhans statement followed Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singhs statement on May 29 during BJPs Vikas Yatra in his state where he had said that nobody can stop Chhattisgarh from utilising Mahanadi river water. He had also said the Odisha government was trying to politicise the issue. Pradhan, however, said the stand of the Odisha unit of the BJP on the Mahanadi issue is clear. Pradhan asserted that under no circumstances, there will be any compromise on the larger interest of Odisha over the Mahanadi issue. The Petroleum Minister came down heavily on the BJD government in the state for not taking any measure to conserve the Mahanadi water in the downstream areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26 hit out at the ruling BJD government in Odisha, accusing it of misleading people by sparking a row over the Mahanadi river water. Mahanadi has been a bone of contention between Odisha and Chhattisgarh with the former opposing construction work on upstream of Mahanadi by the latter and thus blocking the flow of water to downstream. The Union Cabinet in February approved the setting up of a tribunal to resolve the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing Mahanadi river water. The Cabinet decision came following the Supreme Court directive to the Centre in January 2017 to form the tribunal to resolve the long-standing dispute. The Odisha government had moved the court in December, 2016, seeking an order asking Chhattisgarh to stop its construction work in projects on the upstream of Mahanadi, saying it had affected the river flow in the State. It had also pitched for setting up of the tribunal.