Centre's silence over Mahanadi dispute 'sad': Patnaik

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that the Centre's silence over a row between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on sharing the waters of Mahanadi river is "sad" and accused the BJP of not paying attention to the state's needs.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
Patnaik's remarks came a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to Cuttack on the banks of the Mahanadi river where he will also address a public meeting.
"It is sad that the BJP-led government at the Centre is silent over the sensitive Mahanadi water dispute," Patnaik said, addressing the ruling BJD's valedictory programme of the 'Mahanadi Suraksha Abhiyan' here in Jagatsinghpur district.
In an apparent show of strength ahead of the prime minister's visit, Patnaik criticised the BJP over its stand on the Mahanadi dispute at a massive gathering in the port town.
Odisha has been opposing Chhattisgarh's construction on upstream Mahanadi, claiming the projects are disrupting the flow of water in the river.
While stating that the ecosystem of Chilika lake, Satkosia and Bhitarkanika sanctuaries survive on Mahanadi waters, Patnaik said: "We are not fighting for just water, we are fighting for the life of Mahanadi. If Mahanadi is to be saved as a river, water level should be maintained in its 500 km basin during summer."
He claimed that BJP leaders in Odisha were shedding crocodile tears and supporting the alleged illegal constructions by the Chhattisgarh government on the river.
"The people of Odisha have now understood their double standards. If the BJP leaders have any regard for the interest of Odisha, they would oppose the (construction) works by Chhattisgarh," Patnaik said.
He said his party is committed to save the Mahanadi.
Patnaik, also the BJD president, claimed that it is due to the persistent efforts of his government that a tribunal has been established to resolve the Mahanadi river dispute.
He said Mahanadi serves as a lifeline for the state and the livelihood of fishermen and farmers depend on the river.
He said the Mahanadi agitation is not just a political programme but has taken the shape of a peoples' movement.
"The people of Odisha are united for Mahanadi and BJD will give a befitting reply for the attack on our livelihood," Patnaik said.
On May 16, the chief minister flagged off the 'Mahanadi Surakhsha Abhiyan' from Bargarh and Jharsuguda districts, which culminated in Paradip, where the Mahanadi river meets the Bay of Bengal.

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