Farmers across Western Odisha feel insecure over the war of words between the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP regarding construction of dams and barrages upstream of river Mahanadi by the Chhattisgarh government.
The Hirakud command area spreads across 935 square kilometer and water from the reservoir irrigates both during the kharif and rabi season. If the water is retained in Chhattisgarh, a large stretch of this area will starve of irrigation during the non-monsoon seasons.
“Instead of adopting a confrontationist attitude, the Odisha government should talk to the BJP and the Chhattisgarh government. They should work together and find a solution beneficial to farmers of both the states,” said G Suryanarayn, a leading farmer of Gourtikra village in Bargarh district coming under the Hirakud command area.
“Political statements by BJD or BJP will not solve the problem, it is farmers of the state who will be at the losing end”, he remarked.
Similarly, Ramsagar Sahu, another leading farmer under the Sasan canal system sees the political gamesmanship of the BJD as disastrous for farmers.
Instead of threatening agitations, the CM ought to have talked to his Chhattisgarh counterpart and arranged for a meeting between officers of both the states.
“Had Biju Patnaik been alive he would have picked up the telephone and spoken to the Chhattisgarh CM rather than allow his party workers make meaningless noises,” he remarked.
Bijay Behera, a businessman cum environmentalist said the BJP leaders in Odisha are a worried lot as they understand the political fallout if Chhattisgarh goes ahead with the projects. Even industrial circles are worried as they fear that once there is less inflow of water to Hirakud, industrial water used will be the first casualty since the policy for using water is drinking, irrigation , power generation and then industrial use.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written a letter to the Prime Minister drawing his attention to the construction of barrage and dams by the Chhattisgarh government and questioning the silence of the Central Water Commission. The ruling BJD has adopted a resolution objecting to such ‘ arbitrary’ decisions taken by the Chhattisgarh government and said it will voice its protest at every given forum. The Opposition Congress and BJP have, on their part demanded an all party meeting to discuss the issue.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Narasingha Mishra has also written to the PM and the CM. He suggested that he was willing to convene all party meeting, if the CM , for some inexplicable reason is reluctant to do so.