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War over water between Odisha & Andhra and the slowly dying Mahendratanaya river!
Mahendratanaya's modular flow molested by Andhra's mob-rule and misdeed, on the other side mutineer Odisha's mutilate project, painted a mischance for Mahendratanaya river.

Both Andhra's and Odisha's mayhem and melee has created a menace for Mahendratanaya. Now morose and mournful Mahendratanaya's mellifluous melt in her maudlin eyes and mawkish mind. Melancholia Mahendratanaya maunders her melancholy story. On the river bank of Mahandratanaya, Andhra and Odisha are busy in theirs messy methodology's meretricious development plans but both Andhra and Odisha do not know their so-called development progress brought miasma for Mahendratanaya!

The hide and seek played by the currents of the river of Mahendratanaya as it flows through Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are spelling its doom today. On one and there is the dispute between the two states over the sharing of its waters and on the other hand Mahendratanaya is a mute spectator seeking its freedom from the clutches of humanity. For the last six decades from 1960 to 2017, the river is crying out to preserve the flow of its natural stream. For the past 57 years, Mahendratanaya stands bleeding, grief-stricken and its body reflects the history of conflicts. This is the ground zero report on the reality of the development of dispute between Odisha and Andhra over its waters.

Mahendratanaya emanates from the beautiful forest-clad mountain ranges of Mahendragiri. Mahendratanaya is the principal river of Gajapati district of Odisha and a tributary of river Bansadhara. Mahendratanaya and Mahendragiri find ample mention in Mahabharata, the Ramayana and in the verses of Kalidasa.

Mahendratanaya flows through almost 72 kilometres (almost 80 per cent) through Gajapati. Of the 89 km of its entire length, only 17 km (almost 20 per cent) flows through Andhra's borders. Its source starts from Tuparsingh on the foothills of Mahendragiri, flows through Patrapur village and mingles with the river Baluda near Ichchapuram in Andhra Pradesh.

The main stream of Mahendratanaya flows through (Rayagarh and Goshali block of Gajapati), Kainpur, Jaranga, Raghunathpur, Rayagarh, Machhamara, Upaladha and Baghashala and Andhra's Meliaput village. From Meliaput village, the Andhra portion of Mahendratanaya changes its course once again and flows through Odisha's Paralakhemundi (district Gajapati) and through Andhra's Hiramandalam's Gota barrage and mingles with Bansadhara, not far from Andhra's Srikakulam district. It finally runs into the sea in Andhra's Bulsar. The water of Mahendratanaya which flows through Andhra and Odisha has become its nemesis to inflict immense pain on it.

In the name of so-called development through building dams, the modesty of Mahendratanaya is being outraged and so is the real development and progress of the people. Both the states have built dams and barrages across the river which are openly violating the norms binding upon the states. Andhra is ahead in this respect. The Andhra government has sacrificed all laws and ethics and in the name of "progress" has gone ahead with building dams. The natural spring of the Mahendratanaya is about to dry up. The common man and the bio-diversity of the area are on the verge of extinction. Mahendratanaya is on the threshold of death. Yet no state or Central leader, minister and even senior officials or engineers of the Central Water Commission is making an effort to understand this. They think they can usher in development by building dams across the river but in reality they are dragging it towards its destruction.

Experts on water resources like Rajendra Singh and Himanshu Thakur are also of the same opinion. "By building dams and barrages on the rivers and forcibly altering their course, the natural spring of the river dies. By this rivers cannot keep their flow healthy. The natural current dies and the river faces a premature demise. History has witnessed the death of rivers and canals which were perennial springs. The way states in India mainly Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andhra have started competing with each other, the construction of dams will result in the doom of people," says Rajendra Singh.

Andhra and Odisha have been engaged in a tug of war over Mahendratanaya for the last six decades. Andhra has been unethically indulging in illegal work. This unethical activity of Andhra has the tacital support of the Central government and the Central Water Commission. Odisha has been a silent spectator. As per the bilateral pact of 1962, both Odisha and Andhra had agreed to share the waters of Mahendratanaya. It was mentioned in the pact that both the sides would solve any problem arising thereafter mutually.

Ignoring all the principles of the bilateral treaties Andhra started work on building a dam and the Greater Canal Project on the river Mahedratanaya on 4th April, 2008. Since then, the Andhra government has continued to build projects on Mahendratanaya in an illegal and objectionable manner.

Meliaput village of Srikakulam district is just 10 km away from Paralakhemundi, the district headquarters of Gajapati district. Andhra is building the 'Afsar Irrigation Project' near two villages Chapara and Kopsal which are situated between two hills. The Andhra government has disregarded Odisha's just objections and has expedited the construction of this project. The project was initiated by then Chief Minister of Andhra YS Rajasekhar Reddy.

In Chapara and Meliaput, Andhra has virtually arrested the flow of Mahendratanaya's water to their state. By this almost 25000 hectares of land in Meliaput, Palasa, Naligan and Tebil can be irrigated. Along with this, drinking water problem of certain districts like Srikakulam can be solved.

This project of Andhra will create acute water shortage in the villages of Ratini, Amara, Dalimbapur, Bisitapur and Keranit in Gajapati district and also in Paralakhemundi since they are all in the lower catchment areas of Mahendratanaya. It would result in almost 39 thousand hectares of land in Gajapati district being deprived of water. Lakhs of inhabitants of Paralakhemundi and almost 5 lakh people from adjacent villages will not get a drop of drinking water. This problem will be more acute in future, according to the intellectuals of the area.

"In the name of development Andhra is building these projects illegally. The project is not aimed at improving the lot of the people. YS Reddy had started this project for garnering votes for him. The border areas of Andhra are known to be fortresses of Telugu Desam Party Chief, Chandrababu Naidu (the incumbent Chief Minister). In order to satisfy his political ambition, YSR had sacrificed the livelihood of many people and gone ahead with the project by force. Later, Naidu also took up the work of the project to consolidate his vote bank," complain some displaced persons from Patanapura and Tikilipatna.

Many villagers, displaced persons and intellectuals from five villages, Chigurapalli, Sradhapuram, Jenapuram, Daspur and Regulpadi had started a protest movement but the Andhra government forcibly suppressed them. Whoever protests against the project is persecuted by the police who torture innocent people.

The Andhra government has given 2 lakh 60 thousand rupees as compensation for highly fertile land. Many villagers are yet to get the full compensation amount. No one has received any compensation for the loss of homestead. Many villagers from Regulpadi questioned as to who would compensate them adequately for the loss of homestead and land with such high fertility? In quest of votes, politicians and ministers are oppressing the common people, flouting the rules governing international water laws and are trying to destroy Mahendratanaya. Neither the Central government nor the blind justice of law courts can comprehend them.

On one hand, Andhra has gone ahead with its project on war footing. On the other hand, Odisha, belatedly as defiance to Andhra, has started a project near the area of the upper catchment of Mahendratanaya in order to preserve the lives of its people. The lack of foresight and the slow progress in work of the Odisha government is being roundly criticized. Torn between the two warring states, Mahendratanaya suffers endless pain.

You can also read: Row over water sharing: Odisha govt's apathy towards Mahendratanaya river

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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