Environment

Mahanadi water dispute: All you need to know

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Mahanadi water dispute: All you need to knowOdisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has recently accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre for allegedly obstructing the flow of Mahanadi water into the state.

At a party symposium on the Mahanadi water dispute in Bhubaneswar, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo told his co-workers: “The Centre is not solving the Mahanadi water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. It is obstructing Mahanadi water flow into our state. It is the duty of BJD workers to go to people and make them aware of this.”

Here is all you need to know about the Mahanadi water dispute:

1. It was in 2016 that a major dispute surfaced with Mahanadi water sharing becoming a bone of contention between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

2. Odisha, which is the downstream state, strongly opposed upstream Chhattisgarh’s ongoing construction of dams and weirs (small dams) across the Mahanadi.

3. Odisha was concerned that Chhattisgarh is thus trying to expand its share of the Mahanadi water in its catchment area.

4. Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, defended its projects and said they are being constructed to provide water for non-consumptive industrial use.

5. The construction is allegedly being carried on by the Chhattisgarh government without consulting its Odisha counterpart.

6. However, Chhattisgarh claims to have informed Odisha about its proposed projects in 2006.

7. Odisha has throughout maintained that the Centre has not been intervening in the issue and resolving it.

8. Odisha is concerned that after the construction is completed, the downstream flow of the Mahanadi would be affected, resulting in shortage of drinking and irrigation water supply.

9. Odisha also fears that the weirs and other projects across the Mahanadi would adversely affect the water flow to multipurpose river valley project Hirakud reservoir, which is the lifeline of the state.

10. Odisha claims that due to the construction of three unilateral barrages by Chhattisgarh, the water flow to Hirakud Dam is already affected during the dry spells.

11. An average inflow of Mahanadi at Hirakud dam in Odisha is 40,773 million cubic meter (MCM). About 35,308 MCM comes from upstream Chhattisgarh.

12. Before Hirakud dam was constructed in 1953, the Mahanadi was known as the “sorrow of Odisha” due to massive floods it caused in the state.

13. With the Mahanadi dispute reaching a flashpoint, the 2nd Odisha River Conference was organised recently by Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) and Mahanadi River Waterkeeper, along with about 25 partner organisations, where experts opined that instead of complicating the issue over competitive politics, the two states must take a cooperative approach in resolving the water dispute.

14. Ranjan Panda, the convenor of Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) and Mahanadi Waterkeeper, said: “Tribunals alone can’t save our ill-fated rivers and resolve the conflicts over them. Riparian states must keep the door to peaceful dialogues open and work jointly for rejuvenation of the river basins in ecological approaches with the participation of communities and their institutions such as the Gram Sabhas.”

15. This is also relevant for Mahanadi, he felt, urging upon Odisha and Chhattisgarh to start a regular dialogue process led by Chief Ministers of both the states.

16. The Conference, held at Sambalpur on Apr 22-23, welcomed the fact that Mahanadi dispute has already been referred to a Tribunal and urged upon the Tribunal to order an immediate independent assessment of impacts all the dams and barrages are having on the water flow and ecology of the Mahanadi basin.

17. If needed, the experts said, order removal of the structures that are found to have been illegally constructed or which are obstructing more water than the required volume of water that should be flowing downstream.

18. The Mahanadi basin’s total catchment area is around 141,600 square kilometers, out of which 53.9% falls in Chhattisgarh, 45.73% in Odisha and 0.35% Madhya Pradesh.

19. The Mahanadi releases about 57,000 cusecs of water during monsoon.

Big Wire

Sreya Basu

Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.

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