The Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal began a five-day field examination in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, to study the water flow downstream and the availability and use of water outside of the monsoon season, officials said.
They claimed that the three-member tribunal’s visit began in the district of Dhamtari, from which the river originates, with assistance from a technical team.
The first phase of the survey, which ends on April 22, will cover the Mahanadi basin in Chhattisgarh, and the second phase, which spans from April 29 to May 3, will take the tribunal to Odisha, according to a public relations department official.
36 hearings have been held by the tribunal so far. It had been decided to carry out a field survey during a hearing of the water dispute between Chhattisgarh and Odisha on MArch 25 in New Delhi, he said.
Speaking about the tribunal’s visit, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said: “This (matter) should not have gone to the tribunal. Mahanadi originates in Chhattisgarh and we don’t have a dam here. The dispute erupted after barrages were constructed. Due to the ongoing dispute over water sharing, we could not construct a dam in Surguja and barrages (in other places). I understand we should get permission (for the construction), as the entire water of the river goes to Odisha.”
According to the PR official, Chhattisgarh, which split off from Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000, has the largest number of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the entire country.
Five rivers’ basin areas—the Mahanadi, Godavari, Ganga, Brahmani, and Narmada—are located in Chhattisgarh; the Mahanadi basin, which is home to 78% of the state’s people, serves as the state’s lifeline.
Although some attempts have been made in the past to settle the disagreements over water sharing, he claimed there has never been an inter-state agreement between Odisha and Chhattisgarh to share the river’s water resources.
The source stated that an agreement was made in 1983 regarding several projects located in the Mahanadi basin area between the chief ministers of (then) Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
The construction of six barrages for industrial purposes in the upstream and low flow in the downstream, particularly during the lean period, were both things that the Odisha government objected to in a complaint it made to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in 2016, he said.
A three-member tribunal with Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court serving as chairman and Justices Dr Ravi Ranjan and Indermeet Kaur Kochhar of the Patna and Delhi High Courts, respectively, as members, was established by the Centre in 2018.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in a case brought on by the government of Odisha seeking to transfer the water dispute involving the Mahanadi River and its river valley to a tribunal for adjudication under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, led to the creation of the tribunal.
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