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Centre to form Permanent Tribunal for Inter-State River Water Disputes

December 19, 2016 | By

New Delhi: The Central Government of India has reportedly decided to set up a single, permanent tribunal to adjudicate all “inter-state river water disputes subsuming existing tribunals”. According to the Centre the move aims at resolving grievances of states in a speedy manner.

The government has also proposed to float Benches by amending the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956, to look into disputes as and when required. The Benches will cease to exist once the disputes are resolved.

According to The Tribune (TT) decision to this effect was taken at the Central Cabinet meeting earlier this week. The amendment is likely to be introduced in Parliament in its next session.

“There will be only one permanent tribunal with a retired Supreme Court judge as its chairperson. There will be Benches formed as and when required. The Benches though will be wound up once a dispute is resolve,” Water Resources Ministry secretary Shashi Shekhar said.

[File Photo]

Earlier, he said, water tribunals “took ages” to deliver final awards, whereas the proposed tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict within three years.

The amendment also proposes to set up a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), comprising experts and policymakers, to handle disputes prior to the tribunal.

Whenever a state will request, the Centre will set up a DRC. We expect most disputes will get resolved at the DRC level itself. But if a state is not satisfied, it can approach the tribunal,” he added.

To give more teeth to the tribunal, it is proposed that whenever it gives an order, the verdict gets notified automatically. Until now, the government was required to notify the awards.

At present, a tribunal can be formed after a state approaches the Centre.

Inter-State River waters dispute tribunal and the issue of Punjab river waters:

As per experts, any tribunal formed to resolve Inter-State River Waters sharing disputes can not apply to Punjab’s rivers, especially with regard to alleged disputes between Punjab, on the one side, and Rajasthan, Haryana or Delhi, on the other side, because Punjab’s river do not pass through Haryana, Rajasthan or Delhi.

“When our rivers are not “inter-state rivers” with regard to Rajasthan, Delhi or Haryana, no ‘inter-state river water dispute tribunal’ could be formed in this regard, legally or constitutionally to adjudicate Punjab’s river water issues with these non-riparian states”, said former PCS Pritam Singh Kumedan.

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