Friday, October 12, 2012

“Water dispute" means any dispute or difference between two or more State Governments with respect to:

·         The use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley or
·          The interpretation of the terms of any agreement relating to the use, distribution or control of such waters or the implementation of such agreement or
·           The levy of any water rate in contravention of the prohibition contained in section

 Interstate River Water Disputes Act – 1956 (IRWD Act)
·         was first enacted on 28 August 1956 by the Indian parliament under Article 262 on the eve of reorganization of states on linguistic basis to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley. Article 262 of the Indian Constitution provides a role for the Central government in adjudicating conflicts surrounding inter-state rivers that arise among the states/regional governments.  This Act further has undergone amendments subsequently and its most recent amendment took place in the year 2002.
·    Amendment 2002: This amendment specifically does not permit altering the prevailing tribunal verdicts issued before the year 2002 (i.e. but not the tribunal awards issued after the year 2002). Thus this amendment bars the tribunals to give any time period/validity for constituting a new tribunal. This is to keep provision to resolve fresh water disputes which were not addressed by earlier tribunals/ agreements as and when they surface. A permanent water dispute tribunal is contemplated to resolve the growing number of interstate river water disputes expediously.

SARKARIA COMMISSION on Inter-State River Water Disputes

Ø  Once an application under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act (33 of 1956) is received from a State, it should be mandatory on the Union Government to constitute a Tribunal within a period not exceeding one year from the date of receipt of the application of any disputant State. The Inter- State River Water Disputes Act may be suitably amended for this purpose.
Ø  The Inter-State Water Disputes Act should be amended to empower the Union Government to appoint a Tribunal, suo-moto, if necessary, when it is satisfied that such a dispute exists in fact.
Ø  There should be a Data Bank and information system at the national level and adequate machinery should be set up for this purpose at the earliest. There should also be a provision in the Inter-State Water Disputes Act that States shall be required to give necessary data for which purpose the Tribunal may be vested with powers of a court.
Ø  The inter-State Water Disputes Act should be amended to ensure that the award of a Tribunal becomes effective within five years from the date of constitution of a Tribunal. If, however, for some reasons, a Tribunal feels that the five years period has to be extended, the Union Government may on a reference made by the Tribunal extend its term.
Ø  The Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 should be amended so that a Tribunal's award has the same force and sanction behind it as an order or decree of the Supreme Court to make a Tribunal's award really binding.

PUNCHI COMMISSION: recommendation on water disputes:-

(i) The Tribunal should be a multidisciplinary body presided over by a Judge. 
(ii)  It should follow a more participatory and conciliatory approach. 
(iii) The statute should prescribe a time limit for clarificatory or supplementary orders. Appeals to the Supreme Court should be prescribed under the statute; and in the long run; and Reference to a Tribunal should be invariably linked with constitution of inter-State River Boards charged with an integrated watershed approach towards inter-State rivers.
(iv)The initiating party must indicate the efforts it has made in resolution of its grievances before a River Board. 
(v) The Government of India must indicate the stand it took before the Board and in case a Board has not been constituted the reasons for not having constituted one as well as the likely time frame in case the process is underway.

 Constitution of Tribunal

1. When any request under section 3 is received from   any  State Government in respect of any water dispute  and the  Central  Government is of opinion that the water  dispute cannot be   settled by negotiations, the Central  Government shall, within a period   not  exceeding one year from  the date of receipt of  such  request,   by notification  in  the Official Gazette,  constitute  a   Water    Disputes Tribunal   for the adjudication of the water dispute: Provided that any dispute settled by a Tribunal   before the commencement  of Inter-State  Water Disputes (Amendment)   Act, 2002 shall not be re-opened"

2. The Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other members nominated in this behalf by the Chief Justice of India from among persons who at the time of such nomination are Judges of the Supreme Court or of a High Court.

3. The Central Government may, in consultation with the Tribunal, appoint two or more persons as assessors to  advise the  Tribunal   in the proceedings before it.

Sl. No.
Name of the Tribunal
Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal
Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal
Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal
Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal

“the Cauvery issue is about opposition to the release of fixed amounts of water to Tamil Nadu, the Krishna issue is about deciding the quantum of water to be divided between Karnataka and other States”

There shall be an Authority under this scheme to be known as the Cauvery River Authority (hereinafter referred to as the Authority). The Authority shall consist of the following:
(a) Prime Minister of India à Chairperson
(b) Chief Minister of Karnataka Member
(c) Chief Minister of Kerala Member
(d) Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Member
(e) Chief Minister of Pondicherry Member

The Secretary in-charge of the Ministry of the Central Government dealing with water resources shall be the Secretary of the Authority.

i. The role of the Authority shall be to give effect to the implementation of the interim order dated twenty fifth June, 1991 of the Tribunal and all its related subsequent orders.
ii. The Authority shall frame rules and regulations for the conduct of its business.
iii. The Authority may convene meetings as and when necessary.

“In a developing country like India, the inter­state river water dispute must be resolved quickly so that water resources could be utilized and har­nessed properly for economic development. One of the measures could be to declare all the major rivers as national property and national schemes under the central assistance should he launched for the devel­opment of their total command area with partial involvement of the concerned states. Separate cor­porations on the line of the Damodar Valley Corpo­ration may be useful in this direction.

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