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Bill Seeking Single Tribunal For Resolving River Water Disputes Introduced

March 15, 2017 | By

Chandigarh: The Modi government has reportedly tabled a Bill in Lok Sabha, that would seek to set up a single permanent tribunal to resolve inter-state river water sharing disputes.

Instead of having multiple tribunals, the Bill – introduced by the water resources minister Uma Bharti despite opposition from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) – makes a provision of a single permanent tribunal with multiple benches. Unlike the Tribunal, the benches will cease to exist once the disputes are resolved.

Once the proposed legislation is enacted, the single permanent tribunal – known as Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal – will subsume all the existing tribunals including those on Cauvery, Mahadayi/ Mandovi, Krishna, Vansadhara and the alleged dispute between Punjab and other non-riparian states over Ravi and Beas rivers.

The Bill reportedly proposes to introduce a mechanism to resolve the water dispute amicably by negotiations through a ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) before such dispute is referred to the Tribunal. The Committee will be set up by the central government consisting of experts from relevant fields.

In case of any dispute, the Centre will first set up DRC. The Committee will try to resolve the water dispute through negotiations within a period of one year which may extended to a period of six months. The water dispute will be referred to the Tribunal if it is not settled by negotiations.

For representation only

Uma Bharti was quoted by  media saying that “The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes and make the present legal and institutional architecture robust.”

It is reported that the Bill was opposed by the BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab who wanted the government to have a re-look at the proposed legislation arguing that it was drafted in a poor manner.

“I am not going into the merit of the Bill. It’s a very badly drafted Bill. Since water is a state subject, I would also ask the government whether it has consulted all the 29 states before drafting it”, Bhartruhari Mahtab  reportedly said.

“The Centre was very much within its rights to introduce such Bill under Article 262 of the Constitution and assured the House that the proposed legislation was needed to resolve any dispute expeditiously” said the English vernacular in its report while quoting Uma Bharti.

The Bill fixes total time period for adjudication of a water dispute at a maximum of four and half years. The decision of the Bench of the Tribunal will be final and binding on the states concerned, with no requirement of its publication in the official gazette – it means the decision of the Tribunal will automatically be notified the moment it is delivered notes Times Of India (TOI).

The Tribunal will consist of a chairperson (retired judge of a Supreme Court or High Court), one vice-chairperson and maximum six members. While the term of office of the chairperson is five years or till he or she attains the age of 70 years (whichever is earlier), the term of office of vice-chairperson and other members of the Tribunal will be co-terminus with the adjudication of the water disputes said the media sources.

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