Mahanadi Water Dispute: Odisha CM Slams Centre For ‘Bias’

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday asked workers of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to spread a message across the State that BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh and NDA government at Centre have obstructed the flow of the Mahanadi water into Odisha.

He said that the Union government did not cooperate with the Odisha government despite a Supreme Court order to form a tribunal to resolve the water dispute. Water in the lower catchment areas of Mahanadi has dried up as Chhattisgarh has stopped the flow by unilaterally constructing barrages.

“The party met to decide on a strategy to make people understand the situation. Besides, the State Government has also laucnehd a programme – the ‘Green Mahanadi’ in which several lakh trees will be planted on either sides of Mahanadi,” the BJD-supremo said after the “Mahanadi Mahasammelan” (symposium) on the water sharing dispute.

The conference was attended by public representatives from 15 districts at the BJD party headquarters here. The lifeline of Odisha, Mahanadi, needs protection and conservation for ensuring the river’s perennial flow. This is not only essential for enhancing water availability, but to improve livelihood and overall benefit of the people of Odisha.

To rejuvenate and recharge Mahanadi and other river systems of the State the Odisha Government has earmarked a total of Rs 80.12 crore during 2017-18 and 2018-19 for “Green Mahanadi mission,” Additional Chief Secretary, Suresh Chandra Mahapatra stated in the letter.

As per a notification issued by the Forest and Environment Department, ‘Green Mahanadi’ mission will witness a massive afforestation drive and development of a ‘green belt’ along the banks of the river. Under the mission during 2018-19 a green belt will be created within 1 kilomentre width on both sides of the river Mahanadi, Tel and Ib on all available Government and private land.

Plantations (both forestry and horticulture species) are to be taken up during 2018-19 with funding under MNREGS and other sources. Plantation on private land will be done as per choice of species of the farmers (land owners).

Under the mission, artificial regeneration cum block plantation will be done on 6000 hectares, aided natural regeneration with gap plantation on 10,000 hectares, bamboo plantation on 500 hectares, avenue plantation on 500 river kilometer (RKM) and 63 lakh seedlings will be distributed for farm cum agro-forestry.

Plantation on government land will be taken up by the Forest Department while plantation of horticulture species on private land will be taken up by the Agriculture Department and Forestry species by Forest Department. In subsequent years, greening activity will be taken up along other river systems in the State in a phased manner, the notification stated.

Block level, district level and State level, Green Mahanadi committees will be setup to monitor the progress of the mission in their respective jurisdictions. Agriculture department (Horticulture) and Watershed Mission shall take up plantation of fruit trees species on private land and also provide subsidy to farmers under MIDH mission. Vacant and suitable land shall be identified by the Field Officials of Forest and Agriculture Department.

The Mission will be headed by a Director (of the rank of Chief Conservator of Forests or above) who would facilitate effective implementation of the programme through various agencies of the State. The Forest Department will take up publicity campaigns and motivate people to participate in the Green Mahanadi mission in large numbers.

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