Single tribunal for inter-state river water sharing disputes
The Supreme Court vide its orders dated the 16th February, 2018 and the 18th May, 2018 has delivered final judgement in the Civil Appeals No 2453 of 2007, 2454 of 2007, 2456 of 2007 filed by States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the award of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal CWDT on the allocation of water to them
The Supreme Court vide its orders dated the 16th February, 2018 and the 18th May, 2018 has delivered final judgement in the Civil Appeals No. 2453 of 2007, 2454 of 2007, 2456 of 2007 filed by States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the award of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) on the allocation of water to them, and the award of CWDT has now merged with the judgement of the Supreme Court dated the 16th February, 2018. The Central Government is satisfied that no further reference to the Tribunal in the matter would be necessary. Therefore CWDT has been dissolved vide Notification No. S.O. 3465(E) dated 16th July, 2018.
The Parliament has enacted Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valley thereof. When any request under the said Act is received from any State Government in respect of any water dispute on the inter- State rivers and the Central Government is of the opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, the Central Government constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute. Currently, 5 water disputes Tribunals are active, details of which are given in Annexure.
In order to further streamline the adjudication of inter-State river water disputes, the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD & GR) on 14.03.2017 by amending the existing ISRWD Act, 1956. The Bill envisages to constitute a standalone Tribunal with permanent establishment and permanent office space and infrastructure so as to obviate with the need to set up a separate Tribunal for each water dispute which is invariably a time- consuming process. In the Bill, there is a provision for establishment of a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) by the Central Government for resolving amicably, the inter- State water disputes within a maximum period of one year and six months.
Any dispute, which cannot be settled by negotiations shall be referred to the Tribunal for its adjudication. The dispute so referred to the Tribunal shall be assigned by the Chairperson of the Tribunal to a Bench of the Tribunal for adjudication. The proposed amendments in the Bill will speed up the adjudication of water disputes referred to it. The Bill was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources for examination. The Standing Committee has submitted its recommendation on the Bill vide Lok Sabha Secretariat letter dated 11.08.2017 in the form of ‘Nineteenth Report of Standing Committee on Water Resources on The Inter- State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017’. Accordingly, the Ministry has prepared draft Cabinet Note for Official Amendments to Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017.