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A new water war: Orissa may sue Andhra Pradesh

By: Sandhya Ravishankar and Jajati Karan


Last Updated: April 08, 2008, 15:27 IST

A new water war: Orissa may sue Andhra Pradesh

Orissa and AP have had an earlier conflict over sharing water.

Hyderabad / Bhubaneshwar: In the theatre of water wars, another government project is sparking conflict.

Protests are intensifying in Orissa after the foundation stone for a Rs 127 crore irrigation project was laid across the Mahendra Tanaya river in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Orissa says the project, to be completed in eight months, violates an inter-state pact of 1962.

“We are examining (the possibility of) going to the SC on this matter. And, of course, we will have a barrage within the boundaries of Orissa on Mahendra Tanaya river to benefit our own people,” said Chief Minister Navin Patnaik.

80 per cent of the river flows through Orissa's Raigada and Gajapati districts. Here, the fear is that the project will affect irrigation and drinking water needs.

"We just cannot let this project happen. We will die because of shortage of drinking water. We are ready to lay our lives to stop this project,” stated a local resident of Paralakhemundi, Purnachandra Mahapatra.

Those opposing the project also claim that it will submerge large tracts of agricultural land in Orissa, a charge Andhra Pradesh denies.

“There is no way any land in Orissa or Andhra Pradesh will get submerged,” insisted AP irrigation minister, Ponnala Lakshmaiah. “This is because we're diverting a small part of the river to ensure that we get the water we're entitled to. We're not erecting any barrages or anything, which will cause submergence.”

This is not the first water dispute between the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh governments. Just a couple of years back, there had been a huge controversy over the sharing of water of the Vamsadhara river. The dispute still continues.

With elections expected next year in both states, and with the Congress and the NDA in power on either side of this divide, the issue is only expected to heat up in the months ahead.

first published:April 08, 2008, 15:27 IST
last updated:April 08, 2008, 15:27 IST