Thursday, July 21, 2016

Appeal to join Mahanadi River Peace Initiative between Odisha and Chhattisgarh: Ranjan Panda

Update from Mahanadi River Waterkeeper

Mahanadi River Basin Peace Building Initiative 

‘Mahanadi River Waterkeeper’  and ‘Nadi Ghati Morcha (Raipur)’ to initiate a citizen driven initiative to resolve Inter-State Water Conflict over Mahanadi

A unique initiative that will involve citizens, experts, politicians and all those are interested to save Mahanadi from a dispute that is brewing between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Bhubaneswar21st July 2016 – Members of ‘Mahanadi River Waterkeeper’ organisation, Odisha and Nadi Ghati Morcha (Raipur) today initiated a citizen driven initiative to build peace between Odisha and Chhatisgarh to conserve the River Mahanadi by avoiding unnecessary disputes between the two states.

For almost a decade now Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), leading water advocacy network of the state, has been warning of a conflict between Odisha and Chhattisgarh owing to the neglect of the river basin by the two states. We kept writing to both the states to treat Mahanadi as an ecological entity and plan all developments in a coordinated and integrated approach so that the mother river of both the states does not suffer.  However, the states ignored our warnings and marketed the river as a water surplus one to invite investments for water guzzling industries, especially coal fired power plants.

This June, when water scarcity got worse and Odisha realised that the upstream development projects are actually affecting water flow in the river negatively, the state has upped its ante against Chhattisgarh and has already cautioned that state as well as approached the central government in this regard. There is a statement or action from both the governments each day and a conflict is brewing up. We need to have a citizen’s drive to understand this conflict and work towards resolving it.

This peace building exercise is necessary because many groups in both the states are trying to flare up the conflict, which might be good to serve some vested or political interests but not at all good for the health of river Mahanadi and people & species dependent on it.

No inter-state water dispute in the country has been solved even for decades of bitter political and legal fights. It is therefore important to understand the fact that we cannot solve it by fuelling a conflict.  The need of the hour is coordinated strategy between the two states, and we will work towards building that up.

In December 2012, WIO and Nadi Ghati Morcha had already laid the foundation of such a peace initiative by inviting civil society groups, farmers, academia and other experts from both the states to Sambalpur in Odisha for a joint discussion on the emerging conflicts between the two states.

After that we have jointly organised many programmes and consultations.  This initiative is part of our long term goal to conserve river Mahanadi for good of both the states.

In both the states, we will engage with governments, have citizen’s consultations and many more initiatives to build a process of peace and step up our pressure so that both the states initiate a consent based joint coordination mechanism where the government along with citizens work towards solving conflicts amicably keeping in view the ecological carrying capacity of the river.

As our other campaigns, this will also be a purely voluntary effort that would be dependent on open support of all sections of the society including the media.  We urge upon all friends in civil society, academia, media and other sections to come join hands with us and save our mother river Mahanadi from this conflict and devastation.

We are seeking all your support in this initiative. It's an appeal!

For further information, please contact:

Ranjan Panda
Mahanadi River Waterkeeper

Tweet @MahanadiRiver
Tweet @ranjanpanda

Ranjan Panda has been designated in 2013 as ‘Mahanadi River Waterkeeper’ by New York based global Waterkeeper Alliance for his constant endeavours towards conservation of river Mahanadi. He also convenes the Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), the leading network of organisations and individuals working for more than two decades in the state of Odisha on water, environment and climate change.

Mahanadi River Waterkeeper organisation works to conserve Mahanadi River’s ecosystem so that all communities and other species dependent on it have access to clean water for today and forever in a sustainable manner. It is based at the Water Initiatives OdishaMahanadi River Waterkeeper is member of the global Waterkeeper Alliance based out of New York!

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