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Vansadhara River Water Dispute: SC Issues Notice In Odisha Govt's Plea Against Tribunal Order Allowing Andhra Pradesh Govt To Construct Neradi Barrage

Shruti Kakkar
25 Sep 2021 5:38 AM GMT
Vansadhara River Water Dispute: SC Issues Notice In Odisha Govts Plea Against Tribunal Order Allowing Andhra Pradesh Govt To Construct Neradi Barrage
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The Supreme Court today issued notice in the special leave petition filed by the State of Odisha against the final order dated September 13, 2017 passed by the Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal ("Tribunal") wherein the tribunal had allowed the Andhra Pradesh government to construct Neradi Barrage on river Vansadhara. While granting liberty to the Counsels to file additional documents...

The Supreme Court today issued notice in the special leave petition filed by the State of Odisha against the final order dated September 13, 2017 passed by the Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal ("Tribunal") wherein the tribunal had allowed the Andhra Pradesh government to construct Neradi Barrage on river Vansadhara.

While granting liberty to the Counsels to file additional documents and directing the Registry to list the SLP against Tribunal's order dated June 21, 2021, the bench in their order observed,

"SLP No 8030/2018 rises out of the final award of the Vansadhara Water Dispute Tribunal. The companion SLP arises from an order dated September 23, 2019 in IA 1 of 2019. Ld Senior Counsel Gopal Subramaniam appears for Odisha with Sr Adv Jayant Bhushan & CS Vaidyanathan for AP. Issue notice in SLP 8030/2018. Mr Y Rajgopal Rao for Andhra Pradesh accepts notice. Both parties shall file convenience compilation.

Ld Sr Counsel Gopal Subramaniam has submitted that against further order of Tribunal dated June 21, 2021, SLP has been lodged. Both the Ld Counsel have stated that the SLP noted above be also heard with both SLP's noted earlier.

Registry is required to take necessary directions from the CJI to list the SLP's. By consent list for hearing & final disposal on November 11, 2021."

Appearing for the State of Odisha, Senior Advocate Gopal Subramaniam while explaining the issue involved requested the bench to hear the matter so that it is able to take the view as to whether the award passed by the Tribunal sustains or not.

"There were disputes about drawal of water but more importantly of Neradi Barrage. The matter was referred to inter state water tribunal & the same came to be constituted in compliance with judgement. Delivered award dated September 13, 2017 & 23rd September 2019 against which SLP is preferred. Parties again approached the order for guidance. 21 June 2021. Aggrieved SLP 151543 of 2021 was filed but the same has not been listed," submitted Senior Counsel.

"In the interest of all parties, it will be better if the matter is heard expeditiously & your lordship will be able to take view whether the award by Tribunal sustains or not," Senior Counsel further added.

On Senior Advocate's submissions, Justice DY Chandrachud, Presiding Judge of the bench while inclining towards posting the matter for final hearing after Diwali break orally remarked,

"We'll list it early since these are matters that should not be postponed. We'll post it immediately after Diwali."

"How long would it take from your side?" Justice Chandrachud further asked Senior Counsel.

On Senior Counsel's submission that it would take a full day for conclusion of submissions, Justice Chandrachud said, "Since the last SLP is not before us, we'll say today that there is a SLP against the 21st June order. We'll pass directions to the registry to seek administrative directions from the CJI."

"These are matters of moments. You can file your additional documents in case you want to," Justice Chandrachud further added.

Senior Counsel for Odisha also requested the Top Court to issue notice in the SLP challenging the Tribunal's order dated September 13, 2017 to which the bench agreed.

Along with this, the bench was also hearing a special leave petition filed by the Odisha Government order dated September 23, 2019 issued by the Tribunal for joint survey in the territory of Odisha.

The SLP was filed on the ground that the Tribunal had overlooked the important conditions laid down in the various inter State Agreements held between the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Order Of Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal Dated September 13, 2017

The three-member tribunal with Justice Mukundakam Sharma as its chairman along with allowing Andhra Pradesh to construct Neradi Barrage on the Vansadhara river, originating in Odisha, and a side weir in Katragadda with riders had also directed for setting up of a supervisory committee to look into the disputes between the two states and implement its decision.

"The state of Andhra Pradesh, on the recommendation of the Supervisory Committee, which shall be final and binding, shall make the payment to the state of Odisha on account of the compensation for the damages, if any, caused by the backwater of Neradi Barrage beyond its pool level," the tribunal said.

The tribunal had ordered that the proposed barrage must get required clearances from the Central Water Commission (CWC), the ministries of water resources, environment and forest, tribal affairs, and other bodies.

Directions were also issued to the State of Odisha to acquire 106 acres of land as per relevant acts in its territory for the project and hand it over to Andhra Pradesh within a year of publishing the order in the official gazette.

Recently, the Odisha Government declined to agree to the request of Andhra Pradesh to grant any consent in the publication of Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal in the official Gazette since the matter was sub judice in the Top Court.

The tribunal said that the cost of the project would be borne between the two states on ayacut (area served by an irrigation project) basis if and when Odisha decided on irrigation using the barrage water in future.

Case Title: State of Odisha v State of Andhra Pradesh

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