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Mahanadi Water Dispute: Tribunal Begins Field Visits in Odisha

Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal headed by chairman Justice A.M. Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court on Saturday started its field visit in Odisha.

According to sources, the tribunal will study the water flow in Mahanadi from neighbouring Chhattisgarh and the availability and use of water in the non-monsoon season. The other members of the tribunal are Justices Dr Ravi Ranjan and Indermeet Kaur Kochhar of Patna and Delhi High Courts, respectively.

On the first day of its visit, the members of the tribunal made a field visit to Hikaru reservoir and held discussion with the Odisha government officials. State Water Resource department officials have made a detailed presentation before the tribunal about the decrease in water flow in the Mahanadi river after construction of barrages and dams by Chhattisgarh, sources said.

The team will visit Chiplima Powerhouse, Attabira Branch Canal and Sasan Canal on Sunday. On May 22, the tribunal members will further visit Ib Thermal Power Station and dam project site in Jharsuguda and Sundargarh. On May 23, the tribunal will visit the Upper Jonk dam site in Nuapada district.

Official sources said that the tribunal is scheduled to inspect at least 30 locations for the survey and the tour will continue till May 28 after which the members will leave for Delhi from Bhubaneswar.

Earlier this month, the tribunal had visited the Kalma Barrage and Kelo project in Chhattisgarh.

Notably, the Odisha government locked horns with Chhattisgarh in 2016 after water flow in the Mahanadi reduced substantially following construction of dams and barrages by the Chhattisgarh government.

On November 19, 2016, Odisha had filed a complaint with the Ministry of Water Resources under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act 1956. A meeting between the two states at CM-level was held but no conclusion arrived.

The Centre subsequently notified the formation of the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal on March 12, 2018. Since then, the Tribunal’s tenure has been extended thrice including the latest till December 24, 2024.

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