Govt plans one tribunal for inter-state water-sharing disputes

Peeved at the slow progress being made by various tribunals dealing with sensitive inter-state water disputes, government is contemplating formation of a single permanent body to tackle such cases.

Last Updated: Jan 31, 2011, 19:55 PM IST

New Delhi: Peeved at the slow progress being made by various tribunals dealing with sensitive inter-state water disputes, government is contemplating formation of a single permanent body to tackle such cases.

"It takes years for the tribunals looking into water disputes to settle the matter. We need to revisit the system. After all, water is precious," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said here.

At present, five Inter-state Dispute Tribunals are either functioning or have given their final award in recent past.

Maintaining that there was a need to "revisit" the present system, he said either a single tribunal should be set up to deal with all inter-state disputes or the matters should be handed over to the judiciary to settle the issues on a fast track basis.
"The tribunals are not serving the purpose. We need to look into that," he said. The Minister did not say whether his ministry has received a request from the Water Resources Ministry to look into the legal aspects before a final call could be taken into the matter.

Meanwhile, sources in Water Resources Ministry said a proposal has been floated to set up one permanent tribunal under the Inter-state Water Disputes Act, 1956.

"Instead of several tribunals looking into different disputes, we can have one permanent tribunal to deal with all inter-state water disputes," the sources said.
The second idea is to all together abolish the inter-state Water Disputes Act and ask states to directly approach the Supreme Court -- and not the High Courts -- with their cases.

The Krishna Tribunal had last month announced its verdict on the water sharing dispute between Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The Cauvery Tribunal looking into dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had given its final award in February, 2007.

Vansadhara Tribunal is looking into water dispute between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

In July, 2002, Goa had made a request under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, (as amended) for constitution of the tribunal under the Act and refer the matter for adjudication and decision of dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra relating to Mandovi (Mahadayi) river.

A notification constituting the tribunal is likely to be issued soon.

PTI