Bhubaneswar, Sep 19: Unhappy over Chhattisgarh's refusal to halt construction activities in the upper catchment of Mahanadi river, the Odisha government today decided to explore all options including legal steps for equitable share of water to safeguard the interest of the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet here this evening, a day after a tripartite meet convened by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in Delhi in a bid to resolve Mahanadi river water issue failed to yield any concrete result.
At the meeting, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emphasised that construction of barrages and other projects in the upper reaches of Mahanadi river in Chhattisgarh should be stopped and the whole matter be scrutinised, Chief Secretary A P Padhi told reporters.
As the Chhattisgarh government declined to stop work, the Odisha cabinet felt there is no option but to explore other means to protect the interest of the state, the livelihood and well being of people, he said.
"After deliberations, the cabinet unequivocally endorsed the stand taken by the state government and resolved to explore all possible options for protecting the interests of the people of Odisha," Padhi said.
"We are now exploring all options. The government will do whatever is necessary. The step to be taken will be decided in the next few days...very soon," the Chief Secretary said. Asked about legal option, Padhi said "all options -- legal or other steps -- are being considered. It will not be proper to spell out any definite option now."
An official statement issued separately said, "We will explore all options...that would certainly include the legal options."
Earlier in the day, soon after his return from Delhi, the Chief Minister said that while Chhattisgarh has refused to stop the construction work on the river, unfortunately the Centre too was reluctant to intervene strongly.
Padhi said the Chief Minister stressed at the tripartite meeting that the Odisha government and people are concerned over Chhattisgarh's construction activities in the upper catchment of the river basin without sharing the critical data with us or without our consent wherever necessary.
The CM pointed out that he had also apprised the Prime Minister of Odisha's concern in this regard, sought his intervention and hoped that the Centre and the Chhattisgarh government will treat the Mahanadi water issue in right spirit of federalism, he said.