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By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 4, 2018: Odisha on Thursday rejected Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari’s proposal to settle the Mahanadi river water dispute with Chhattisgarh through dialogue.

“There is no point in discussing the issue with Chhattisgarh as the central government has not asked the neighbouring state to stop construction work along the upstream of the river Mahanadi,” the ruling BJD spokesperson Prashant        Nanda told reporters.

Discussions on the matter would make sense only after the Chhattisgarh government halts construction work on the river, Nanda clarified.

The BJD’s reaction follows Gadkari’s reply to a series of questions on the Mahanadi river issue in the Lok Sabha, requesting the Odisha government to settle the dispute with Chhattisgarh through negotiations.

The Union minister also justified the central government’s move to decline the BJD government’s proposal to form a tribunal in the case and said records show it only delayed solution.
Nanda once again reiterated BJD’s stand that the BJP-led central government has been out to help Chhattisgarh in carrying out ‘illegal’ construction work.

“The state government, in view of the interests of Odisha people, cannot go to the negotiation table unless Chhattisgarh stops construction work. Gadkari’s request is just a part of a conspiracy hatched against Odisha,” he asserted.

Uma Bharati, during her tenure as the water resources minister, had also categorically said that the Centre cannot ask Chhattisgarh to stop project work on Mahanadi, the BJD’s Parliamentary Party leader Bharuhari Mahatab said in the Lok Sabha.

The BJP unit in Odisha welcomed Gadkari’s proposal and accused the state’s BJD government of politicising the issue.

“As a tribunal takes 20 to 30 years to resolve water disputes between states, it is better to solve the matter through discussion,” BJP state vice-president Samir Mohanty said.

The opposition Congress, on its part, blamed both the BJD and the BJP for the dispute.

“The state government had initially allowed the Chhattisgarh government to initiate construction work on the Mahanadi. Now, they are opposing it…The BJP is also politicising the matter as the party is in power in Chhattisgarh,” senior Congress leader Sarat Rout said.