**Bhubaneswar:** As decided earlier and after being granted permission, the 16 Odisha Congress legislators led by Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra left for the national capital on Thursday and apprised the President of India of the ongoing Mahanadi water sharing dispute between neighbouring Chhattisgarh and entreated him to ask the Union Government to do the needful soon for protecting Odisha’s interest.
The 16 Congress MLAs met the President of India at 6 pm on the day and submitted a memorandum urging him to intervene into the Mahanadi water sharing dispute.
Talking to media soon after the meeting at Rastrapati Bhawan, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra told media at New Delhi, “We appealed the President to direct the Centre to ask Chhattisgarh to stop the constructions on Mahanadi. Also to direct Chhattisgarh to furnish all detailed information to the Odisha Government on the projects completed, ongoing and also on future projects. The President has also been appealed by us to direct the Central Government for formation of Inter-State River Water Dispute Tribunal using his constitutional power. We’ve been assured by the President that he would examine the matter and do the needful for the sake of Odisha’s interest.”
The Congress legislators left by flight at 9.20 am from the Biju Patnaik International Airport here.
Before boarding flight here, Odisha Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra had told media, “We’re going to meet the President at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at 6.00 pm today. The delegation of 16 Congress MLAs will submit a memorandum to him for protecting Mahanadi and Odisha’s interest. We’ll urge him to intervene into the issue or else it would have far-reaching consequences as over 60% Odisha population would be adversely affected. I’ve already told in the Assembly that the Chief Minister is unable to do anything for protecting Odisha’s interest. It has already been proved earlier when Kolkata port was about to engulf Odisha’s seven sea ports, the CM simply sat pretty by writing only letters. We had protected then. How the President would initiate action on our appeal depends on him, but we’re optimistic that we can save Mahanadi.”
Congress MLA Naba Kishore Das had said, “The objective of our Delhi visit is to protect Mahanadi as Chhattisgarh has unilaterally constructed projects on the river while Odisha Government is knowingly turning a blind eye to such a serious issue. Odisha Government is only resorting to political drama. On the contrary, the people of Odisha are going to pay a heavy price for it. We had been to the ground zero. Most of the projects have been completed and nearing completion while the Odisha Government, having three offices of its Water Resources Department, couldn’t have an inkling of it. Our appeal to the President of India would be to exert pressure on the Central Government to resolve the dispute soon so that our State’s interest remains well protected and intact.”
Senior Congress MLA Prafulla Majhi had said, “Since we’ve been allowed appointment from October 13-15, we’ve decided to meet today and are hopeful to come out successful in our mission.”
Congress MLA Prakash Behera had said, “The main purpose of our visit is to apprise the President of India on the contentious Mahanadi issue. We’re also going to meet other AICC leaders during this Delhi visit.”
In a major development on the day, Congress Chief Whip in Odisha Assembly Taraparasad Bahinipati missed the flight. But, he left for New Delhi later on the day by another flight cancelling the ticket of the first flight.
In his reactions, he had told media here, “As I’d been to my home turf Jeypore for Dusshera celebrations, I was back to the capital city very late and couldn’t wake up on time for which I missed the flight and couldn’t accompany our Congress team. We’ll prove that the ruling BJD is telling lie on the Mahanadi issue and taking people of Odisha for a ride. We’ll demand Chief Minister’s resignation before the President of India.”
In his reactions on the Congress MLAs’ Delhi visit and meeting the President of India, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy told OMMCOM NEWS, “It’s an effort of the Congress party to hide its past sin as the Chhattisgarh projects were accorded seal of approval during the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre in 2008, 2009 and 2011. If at all they are concerned about Odisha and had also convened an all party meeting barring our BJD, they would have also taken those other party MLAs with them. Even during the Odisha bandh over the Mahanadi issue they gave the bandh call alone as they were excommunicated by other political parties on the issue. It’s simply meant for saving their party’s image as it has declined across India including Odisha.”