Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ms. Uma Bharti on Tuesday introduced the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha. It intends to set up a single permanent tribunal to resolve inter-state river water sharing disputes expeditiously.
The Tribunal, called the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal will subsume all the existing Tribunals, including those on Cauvery, Mahadayi/ Mandovi, Krishna, Vansadhara and Ravi and Beas rivers.
The Bill further seeks to introduce a mechanism to resolve such disputes amicably by negotiations through a ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC), before such conflict is referred to the Tribunal. This Committee will be set up by the Central Government, and would comprise of experts from relevant fields. The Committee would strive to settle the dispute within a period of one year, which may be extended by 6 months. In case of failure of such negotiations, the dispute would be referred to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal would comprise of a Chairperson (retired Judge of a Supreme Court or High Court), one Vice-Chairperson and a maximum of six members. While the term of office of the Chairperson is five year or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier, the term of office of Vice Chairperson and other member of tribunal shall be co-terminus with the adjudication of the water dispute. Assessors may also be appointed, to provide technical support to the Tribunal.
The Bill caps the time limit for adjudication of a water dispute at four and a half years. The decision of the Tribunal would be final and binding on the concerned States.