Former water resources minister and BJP leader Bijoy Mahapatra on Tuesday said a river board should be formed under the Central act to try and resolve the dispute between Chhattisgarh and Odisha government over sharing of Mahanadi waters. 

“An integrated rule curve should also be formulated,”he said. 

Addressing a press conference here, Mahapatra said the proposal to form a Joint Water Control Board will not serve the purpose as it will be a toothless body without any power. Instead, if the river board is formed as per the Central act, there will be some decisions that are binding on both governments. If the river board fails to resolve the dispute, the matter can go to a tribunal for adjudication, he observed. 

Mahapatra said he had attended meetings between Odisha and the erstwhile Madhya Pradesh government.

“Nothing much comes out of such joint meetings,” he remarked. 

Significantly, he claimed that the original project report of Hirakud had envisaged that two-third of Mahanadi waters will be used by Odisha. 

“I do not have the original project report, but it is high time for the state government to find the report and make it public,” he said. 

He strongly felt that the dams and barrages being constructed by Chhattisgarh government will adversely effect Odisha both during the monsoon and non-monsoon season. Flood control during monsoon and the minimum two lakh acre feet required for Hirakud during non-monsoon period will be difficult, he said.

He blamed “all three parties” – the Chhattisgarh, Odisha and the central government for the present crisis. It is true that Chhattisgarh had not taken Odisha in to confidence while constructing some of its projects upstream of Mahanadi and it is equally true that Odisha government had failed to intervene at the appropriate time. 

“The central agencies like the central water commission, environment ministry etc had accorded clearances to projects without bothering to seek Odisha&’s views,” he charged.

A decade ago, a technical committee had reported to Odisha government that 41 per cent of the catchment area has already been intercepted. 

“Yet the Naveen Patnaik government did not take notice of this,” he alleged.

Refusing to be drawn in to answering questions on how he was differing with the stand of his party, the BJP, Mahapatra said he was not interested in political issues. 

“I am speaking as a person who has studied Hirakud and the Mahanadi basin and from experience as a former water resources minister,” he remarked.