Green Mahanadi Mission – A mission or a mere poll plank?

By A K Sahoo

Bhubaneswar: Odisha finance minister Sashibhusan Behera on Friday literally stepped into the shoes of the Narendra Modi government. Like the NDA government’s National Mission for Clean Ganga, it announced launch of Green Mahanadi Mission (GMM) for protection of the Mahanadi river.

Finance minister Sashibhusan Behera announced the launch of GMM during his Budget speech in the State Assembly.

“Mahanadi is the lifeline of Odisha. In order to enhance water availability and improve livelihood of people in the state, the river needs be protected. With this objective, a new Scheme Mahanadi Mission is being launched with massive participation of people’s representatives and all stakeholders,” the minister announced.

Rs 30 crore has been allocated in the Budget for the Green Mahanadi Mission.

The FM, however, did not elaborate what measures the government planned to undertake on the GMM.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in his various speeches at different forums, has been pleading for ensuring the sanctity of Mahanadi, – by keeping it from all sorts of pollution.

According to political analysts, the government deliberately introduced the Green Mahanadi Mission to reap rich political dividends.

After exhausting several other options, the BJD has been drawing political sustenance from the Mahanadi issue to sail through in various poll battles. May it be in the 2017 rural polls and Bijepur assembly bypoll, – Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh remained in the top of the BJD’s list.

Analysts maintain that since most of the people in Odisha have emotional attachment with the Mahanadi as it flows through in more than half of the 30 districts, the BJD wants to keep the water dispute issue alive in various forms to extract maximum possible political mileage.

After the appropriation bill is passed and budget is put to implementation, it will be known how the BJD spends the money.

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