RAIPUR: As water crisis worsened in the Bastar, tribals and social activists in the region have launched a mass movement demanding immediate steps to save Indravati river .
The river originates from a hilltop village of Mardiguda in the Kalahandi district of Odisha and enters Jagdalpur following a westerly path. The mass protest was launched on May 8 from Jora Nala, situated along the Chhattisgarh-Odisha border from where the river enters state. The stir will conclude at Chitrakoot water falls.
Local people are on a foot march holding placards and raising slogans to save Indravati river. Protesters claim that the situation could escalate into a conflict between Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments due to non-fulfilment of water agreement terms by either state.
Senior tribal leader and former Union minister Arvind Netam said that Chhattisgarh government should have a discussion with its Odisha counterpart regarding the Indravati river water agreement between the two states.
"If necessary steps are not taken, the situation will get worse in the future and will be beyond the control of the state government," he said.
Back in 1999, a high-level meeting was held in Jagdalpur between the then Odisha chief minister Giridhar Gamang and Digvijaya Singh , the then chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh. It was decided in the meeting that as per agreement, 45 TMC water will be given in summer or winter season.
However, protesters claim that the Odisha government is not taking any action to fulfil this agreement.
Bastar native Dharampal Saini said that the water level of Indravati river in the region is gradually depleting and has created a major water crisis for villagers. The river is lifeline of about 200 villages which are in the grip of a water crisis due to depletion of water level.
"Odisha government is not ready to give water to Chhattisgarh as per the requirements. While over 14,000 hand pumps have been installed in Odisha for irrigation , the fields in Bastar are still dry," Saini said.
Expressing his concern over the situation, Saini said that if such situation prevails, then a water conflict could arise between the states.
Bastar Development Authority chairman Lakheshwar Baghel said the issue of Indravati river water crisis will be discussed in an upcoming meeting. He said a group of Bastar MLAs will hold a discussion with the Odisha government to solve the water crisis.