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Odisha’s Disputes With Other States On 3 River Projects Remain Unresolved As Drought Looms Large

Bhubaneswar: Even as Odisha experiences drought-like situation due to deficient rainfall this year, its disputes with neighbouring states regarding three river water projects remain unresolved.

The Supreme Court is yet to announce its verdict on Polavaram and Vansadhara projects, while Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal on river water sharing will hold its 23rd hearing on Saturday.

In 2007 when the Andhra Pradesh government started the Polavaram irrigation project over river Godavari, the Odisha government had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court opposing the project on the ground that it would submerge many tribal villages in the state. Odisha also followed it up by filing several interim petitions in the court.

In 2018, the apex court had directed 6 states, which had opposed the Polavaram project on the ground that it would affect their areas and population, to file their response on 13 issues. The court picked up 8 issues raised by Odisha in its response.

Among other issues, Odisha had pointed out that several tribal villages in Malkangiri would be submerged by the project. The Supreme Court has heard the case 55 times between 2018 and 2020, but the matter remains unresolved till date.

Odisha has also locked horns with Andhra over Naredi project on Vansadhara river. After Vansadhara Water Dispute Tribunal allowed Andhra to construct anicut at Naredi, Odish has challenged it in the apex court. But there has been no major progress in the case so far.

The third project is related to sharing of Mahanadi river water. Odisha had raised the dispute in 2016 over construction of dams and barrages in the upstream of the river in Chhattisgarh. It had alleged that construction of the barrages has led to drying of river bed in Odisha during the summer season.

Though Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal was formed by the Centre in 2018 and several petitions were filed by Odisha, the dispute remains unresolved. The tribunal has heard the case 22 times and its term extended to 2023.