Uma Bharti moves a bill in Lok Sabha for single, permanent tribunal on water disputes

New Delhi: A bill which seeks to to set up a single, permanent tribunal to adjudicate all inter-state river water disputes subsuming existing tribunals was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Moving the bill, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti called it “revolutionary” amid opposition by Bhartruhari Mahtab of BJD who said it was “very wrongly drafted” and asked the government to consult the states before bringing it. Rejecting his contention, Bharti said he had not given any logical reasoning as to why he considered the bill, which is aimed at resolving grievances of states in a speedy manner by amending the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, as badly drafted.

Citing the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, she said the new law will be effective in dealing with such disputes and sought support of members of various parties for its passage. “The proposed bill seeks to provide for a single tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of multiple tribunals. It shall consist of one chairperson, one vice-chairperson and not more than six members…

“The total time period for adjudication of a water dispute has been fixed at a maximum of four and half years. The decision of the bench of the tribunal shall be final and binding on the states concerned…,” the bill says.

It notes that inter-state river water disputes are on the rise on account of increase in demand of water by states. The existing Act suffers from many “drawbacks”, it says.