Biju Janata Dal president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dubbed the BJP as anti-Odisha and dared the state BJP leaders as well as central ministers belonging to the state to oppose the Chhattisgarh government and ask it to stop construction of barrages and dams upstream of Mahanadi.

These BJP leaders come here and shed crocodile tears, for them party is most important, they do not dare to oppose Chhattisgarh government impeding Mahanadi waters, he charged while launching the BJD’s Mahanadi Surakshya Abhijan from Sukhasoda village bordering Chhattigarh in Jharsuguda district on Wednesday.

The BJP at the Centre and Chhattisgarh have conspired against Odisha and the Mahanadi is drying up. Mahanadi is our mother, it is the lifeline of Odisha and we will fight for it, said the CM.

The Odisha government had to move the Supreme Court for justice, he said, while noting that the central government constituted the Tribunal to adjudicate on the water dispute only after it was directed by the court to do so.

The CM took a swipe at the BJP for asking why Odisha had not constructed barrages downstream of the river. Barrages will not help farmers, he remarked while asserting that his government has installed mega lift irrigation points and has plans of a few barrages and projects downstream. The key is to avoid displacement of people, he said.

Highlighting the dry Mahanadi and the condition of the Hirakud reservoir, Patnaik said: “This movement to save Mahanadi is not of the BJD alone. Rather, it is a movement by people of the entire state since Mahanadi is the lifeline of the Odisha.” He appealed to all to join the battle to protect Mahanadi.

“Under no circumstances, we will let Mahanadi go dry since it is the integral part of the state’s history and culture,” Patnaik reiterated.

A string of BJD leaders addressed the meetings at Sukhasoda and Chikili. They denounced the BJP and took digs at Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan without naming him.

“If you love your motherland, will you compromise for a mere Rajya Sabha seat,” asked BJD MP Prasanna Acharya in an implicit reference to Union Minister Pradhan.

The yatra launched by the BJD will traverse 1500 km across 15 districts of the state to create awareness among people on the danger poised to Mahanadi by the BJP government at the Centre and Chhattisgarh.