A new study, Mahanadi: Coal Rich, Water-Stressed sheds light on how both Odisha and Chhattisgarh have locked horns over the distribution of waters of the Mahanadi river. The 851-km-long river originates in the Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh, flows through the state and then Odisha before joining the Bay of Bengal at Odisha’s coast.
The interstate dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi's water is an ongoing one and it looks like both the state governments have no interest in finding a long-term solution.
On January 13, 1957, the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the Hirakud dam, calling it the temple of modern India. It has submerged more than 360 villages (1,23,000 acres of land) and displaced 26,561 families.
The Mahanadi is the lifeline of the people of both Chhattisgarh and Odisha, as it the most important water source for the farmers and other citizens of both these states to meet their domestic and livelihood needs.
The Hirakud Dam project is the oldest of its kind in India. The dam was built across the Mahanadi river about 15 kms upstream of Sambalpur in the state of Odisha. It is the first major multipurpose river valley project in post-independent India and also one of its longest.
Scientists say Himachal prone to Uttarakhand-like flash floods
This article by Kishore C Samal in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) discusses how in the natural disater prone state of Orissa the authorities have not been able to draw up an effective disaster management plan and politicians continue to play politics with relief works. It argues that for dealing with these disasters and the relief and rehabilitation work that follows what is needed is the participation of the local community and functionaries of panchayati raj institutions, and coordination with national and international bodies.
It is evident that the domestic resistance to the project was variously compromised by nationalist rhetoric, imperatives of state development and absence of transnational support. The Hirakud dam project has failed on all of its objectives – flood management, hydropower production, irrigation and navigation. Its socio-economic impact has been devastating.
Orissa was hit by two spates of flood in September 2011, the first one being caused by heavy rains in the Mahanadi catchment and release of huge discharges from Hirakud dam. The second one was caused by heavy rains and flooding of Brahmani, Baitarani and Budhabalanga rivers. These floods point to the loopholes in river basin planning and management and calls for urgent attention of planners and policy makers.
Water Initiatives Orissa's analysis
Water Initiatives Orissa has a detailed analysis of the current situation in Orisssa. The analysis while staying away from allocating blame goes into detail to find out the real reasons for the flood situation.