Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today alleged that the Centre was no longer neutral in the matter of sharing of the Mahanadi river water between Odisha and neighbouring Chhattisgarh. "What the Centre has done in the Supreme Court yesterday suggests that it is no longer a neutral referee in this (Mahanadi) matter," he told reporters after attending an all- party meeting called by Assembly Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat. The speaker had convened the meeting in the wake of an impasse in the Assembly over the Mahanadi issue as the Centre had not set up a tribunal for resolving the river water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, as demanded by the former. Apart from Patnaik, the meeting was attended by Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of the Congress, BJP legislature party leader K V Singh Deo and senior BJD leader Debi Prasad Mishra among others. Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the chief minister said, "As regards the Mahanadi issue, we have decided that a House committee will be formed." "We will have further discussion with the leaders of all the parties to chalk out our future strategy," Patnaik, who is also the president of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), said, while asserting that his party would fight for the interest of the people of Odisha, particularly the farmers. Mishra said the House committee, which would be set up to look into the Mahanadi issue, would take a decision as regards how to go about the dispute. "The next all-party meeting will be held after the next Supreme Court hearing," he said, adding that the apex court was scheduled to hear the matter again on December 11. Singh Deo said his party's stand on the Mahanadi issue remained unchanged and that the House committee should chalk out the next course of action. However, he added that the state government should inform the other parties about Odisha's stand in the issue. The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the ongoing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh should be sorted out through negotiations between the parties concerned.
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