By Biswaraj Patnaik, Puri, June 11, 2017 : On June 8 the people living on this planet observed the World Oceans Day. The oceans remain live as long as rivers keep flowing into them. Oceans give us innumerable things, most of them life-supporting including salt and highly-nutrient aquatic animal and plant species.Oceans give us the most affordable base for navigation. Shipping is the cheapest and least-polluting mode of international transport.

But unfortunately, some stubborn inland regimes of federal India are blocking river waters with the sole view to settling political scores. The great river Mahanadi originates mostly in Chhattisgarh and partly in Madhya Pradesh. It is indeed the life line of Odisha. Until the Chhattisgarh region was part of MP, it had no special fascination for the Mahanadi waters.

However, after it became a separate political entity, and more so because the downstream state Odisha was not a political ally, the BJP-led administration has purposefully built dams and barrages across the Mahanadi. Out of the six big and small, the Kalma barrage is the biggest culprit blocking water from flowing into the Odisha Mahanadi. Kalma is closest to Odisha border and virtually locks up the river from benefitting the entire state of Odisha which has the longest earth-made reservoir at Hirakud.

The Odisha authorities, including the chief minister, have been protesting vehemently against the construction of the barrages without consensus. The media and other intellectual and watch forums had initially blamed the Odisha government for having been careless and callous about what terrible things were happening on the Mahanadi upstream. But once the news reached them, they woke up too violently and staged big fight first by making dialogue attempts which failed miserably. Perhaps if both had BJP ingredients in them, the Mahanadi disaster would have lasted this long.

Most unfortunately, God alone knows why, the Nehru regime had snatched the ‘River Disputes settlement affairs’ from the Supreme Court much against the spirit of the Constitution by making a strange act which appears quite bad in law. The inter-state river disputes shall have to be referred to the Union government which, if only it feels appropriate, may constitute a tribunal to decide what’s best for the warring parties.

Even though much belatedly, the Odisha government has been crying hoarse against the construction of water blocking structures on the Mahanadi, the Chhattisgarh government has considered it fit to turn a deaf ear, or at the most placing the plea of ‘using less than its legitimate share of water’. But as of now the truth has emerged. Chhattisgarh is being merciless on purpose. The CWC has remained defunct ever since it’s inception in 1982.

The Union government is expected to pay heed to both the warring partied and constitute a ‘Tribunal’ without delay; but nothing to the effect has happened so far. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has personally written several letters to the high–profile prime minister Narendra Modi.

Modi, who many believe is the first ever super PM of India who holds a world record of visiting 42 countries by staying out of office for 113 days in 25 months, for sure has improved most international relations by promising all cooperation on every front- from ‘make in India investments’ to fighting cross-border terror organisations’. Modi has been harping on a very believable ‘pet slogan’ – ‘acche din’ meaning good days are coming very fast. He had also promised incalculable back money stashed abroad to be in people’s pocket in the first sixty days. Probably he has done it secretly and will be distributing that soon.

About the ‘two crore new jobs for the youth’ promise, he has not much to say as the jobs have not germinated as yet. The scrapping of the article 370 was an impracticably boastful one from day one, though. But Modi is kind of a hero for he is not a Hindu fundamentalist like many others in the ‘Lotus’ fold. He does not scream against ‘beef eating’ or promotes fundraising for the new Ram temple in Ayodhya. But no one knows why, some thing has gone wrong with him on the Odisha demand for a river tribunal to get its natural share of water in summer days to survive and keep the oceans live and glistening.

Raman Singh, the Chhattisgarh CM now says Odisha should go to the CWC which is lifeless for long. Odisha after failing on the dialogue front rightly petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the Union government for setting up a Tribunal without delay. Even more strangely, the saviour Apex Court too is not treating the matter on a fast–track mode as is the rule.

Both critics and admires now say that Modi is partial to Chhattisgarh and unkind to Odisha. Some say he is jittery about Naveen’s magic tricks of winning elections. In the heart of his hearts, his only craving is to unseat Naveen or turn him ally, both the possibilities look grimly slim. That Modi keeps loudly quiet about the Odisha appeal to get Mahanadi water, is a very undemocratic stand by a larger than life Prime Minister. His followers in Odisha have no arguments to make in his favour nor have they any mechanism of defence.

Dharmendra Pradhan and the mouthpieces including Sajjan Sharma et al are forced to look for escape routes at TV shows as they do not find it easy to say the centre is neglecting Odisha on the Mahanadi issue by playing a step-motherly role. Modi who calls himself the ‘Pradhan Sevak’ (principal servant) of the people, must really conduct like one.

That the CWC is defunct and that the law says the centre has to bring in place a Tribunal, has to be reiterated by the Pradhan Sevak of the largest democracy. Modi must have gained immense experience of statesmanship during his hurricane foreign tours. 113 days of absence by a head of state is by itself a world record of which Modi should be proud as no other head of any developing country may have dared take the risk, as there is so much to be done at home.

All the same, most Odisha ministers and BJD preachers do not seem to know the critical water flow statistics, particularly in summer times. Barring the ones who appear on TV as spokespersons, very few Odisha leaders are aware of how Mahanadi flow has gone down alarmingly in the summer months.

Interestingly, Chhattisgarh had invariably declared that Odisha would not suffer water scarcity because the ultra modern industrial outfits have equipped themselves with such wonder machines that the water would be used only, not consumed at all- like in dish washing and then treated scientifically to convert it to portable state and then poured back into the Mahanadi to flow happily down to Odisha and enter the Bay of Bengal as usual. No shortage, no pollution or damage would ever occur to the crystal clear water of the Mahanadi. If that claim were true, the summer months this year would not have marked a dangerous shortfall, which has already been measured.

The Odisha BJP preachers and advocates like KV Singhdeo, Buxipatra and that ignorant yet too-loud young Harichandan have no voice left to use to say a thing about why Modi as PM is keeping quiet, instead of ordering for the Tribunal without seeking any more information. Modi as head of the country has to consider Chhattisgarh and Odisha on the same plane. Both are his proud states. Rather than ignoring Odisha for being a political non–ally, Modi should prove his impartiality by weeping for Odisha as much as he does for Chhattisgarh because huge revenue goes to the Central coffers from commercial activities happening in Odisha especially in mining forestry and tourism.

Sooner or later the Supreme Court will invoke the 1956 act of tribunal formation and ensure justice for Odisha. So why not an early prime ministerial order to bring relief to all parties in distress and become dearer to the Naveen–soaked masses of Odisha! By acting neutral on a no-nonsense mode, Modi may expect more acceptable results in the 2019 polls. Most importantly; the oceans shall not dry up as fast as the critical blunder of Chhattisgarh can be corrected to bring smile to humanity.

Modi as a popular prime minister must be aware that he is the prime minister of all the states first, a BJP leader later. Needless to say Chhattisgarh and Odisha are equally important to him as federal states.

Lastly, what looks odd is the fact that BJP spokespersons, big and tiny, keep rushing to answer difficult public questions posed to the petroleum minister in particular, as if BJP is being challenged. The government functionaries are expected to clarify to Odisha people as to why the IOCL has ignored Odias while choosing employees for its Paradeep refinery. Minister is fine as the department head. But not little creatures like Harichandan and others when Bijay Mahapatra of the same party expressed concerns over Odias not getting jobs at the refinery. Hopefully, the local refinery will induct more Odias into the huge petroleum processing unit.