Governor insists on probe into Orissa flood cause

October 15th, 2011 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 15 (IANS) The debate over the cause of recent floods in Orissa has widened with Governor M.C. Bhandare insisting on a probe despite objections by the state authorities, while an expert Saturday sought a government white paper on the issue.

“Any fair inquiry by an independent body is very necessary so that we take the necessary preventive measures,” Bhandare told reporters here.

The governor’s statement came a few days after the state authorities rejected his proposal for a probe by a new independent panel on the alleged mismanagement of water in Hirakud dam reservoir that, many said, worsened the intensity of the calamity.

Two rounds of floods last month killed 83 people and disrupted lives of 5.6 million residents in 21 of the state’s 30 districts. Thousands continue to live under the open sky in makeshift homes and on roads.

Experts and opposition parties have been demanding a probe saying that the devastation could have been avoided or minimised had the authorities been cautious in releasing water from the dam.

The governor last month had written a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asking him to set up a technical committee to find out whether the discharge of water from the reservoir was done as per the procedure.

The chief minister in his reply to the governor Wednesday said there was no violation of the procedure and there was no need to form a committee. The chief minister said an old panel formed in 2009 could be told to look into the matter.

Ranjan Panda, convenor of Water Initiatives Orissa, a network of civil society organisations which has been working on water-related issues, said the government should release a white paper on the issue.

“We urged the government to release a white paper. It should include day-wise details of the flood management by the dam from Aug 1 to Sep 30,” said Panda.

It should also provide information on what all factors were considered to keep the reservoir at a particular level on a particular date, he said.

“This should also include data on the flood forecasting upstream and downstream; inflow and outflow at different stations and travelling time of flood waters between stations, flood warnings issued and so on and so forth,” he said.

“The government has been dishonouring the governor. The governor has insisted for a probe and the government should order such a probe by an independent panel without any delay,” said state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik.

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