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18 Dec 2017, 23:31 HRS IST
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  • PTI
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  • Uproar in Odisha Assembly over Mahanadi dispute

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21:1 HRS IST

(Eds: With additional inputs & correction in intro)

Bhubaneswar, Dec 7 (PTI)
The Odisha Assembly today witnessed repeated adjournments as members of three major political parties - BJD, BJP and Congress - engaged in a war of words over Mahanadi river water dispute between the state and Chhattisgarh.

Congress MLAs rushed to the well as soon as the session began this morning and shouted slogans against the central and state governments for not setting up a tribunal to resolve the dispute.

The ruling BJD MLAs also joined the frenzy and raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP members, on the other hand, blamed the ruling party for the stalemate.

The Centre, through an affidavit in the Supreme Court, has said that the Odisha government has failed to provide documents to justify the formation of a tribunal and there was no need to constitute one, BJP leader K V Singhdeo explained.

Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, however, alleged that the Centre has betrayed the people of Odisha by denying them a tribunal.

"As per law, the central government must constitute a tribunal for inter-state disputes within a year of receiving requests from either state. This (denial of a tribunal) is one of the biggest violations of law," the Congress leader told reporters.

The central government has acted in a partisan manner by declining Odisha's request, he said.

Mishra also came down heavily on the BJD government for not consulting other parties over the issue.

"I had earlier requested the Chief Minister to call for an all-party meeting and put up a united fight against the Centre for the interest of people of the state. But unfortunately, the state government didn't pay a heed to me," Mishra said.

Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat was unable to run the House amid the noisy scenes and adjourned the Assembly several times in the day.

The state government was not serious about the Mahanadi issue, the BJP MLAs maintained.

"We have been demanding a White Paper on Mahanadi water dispute, but the state failed to provide one with proper data," BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit said.

The BJD government's chief whip Amar Prasad Satpathy countered the BJP's allegations and said the Centre's betrayal came to the fore when it moved Supreme Court with the affidavit.

When a state applies for a tribunal, the Centre is bound to constitute it under the Inter State River Water (ISRW) Disputes Act, 1956, he said.

"In case of Odisha, the Centre acted with an ill intention to help completion of projects by the Chhattisgarh government," Satpathy alleged.

The Odisha government had written to the Centre last year for constitution of an inter-state tribunal under section 3 of the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956, (IRWD Act) to resolve the Mahanadi water sharing dispute between Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

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