Thursday, January 6, 2011

River Water Disputes in India

As per the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (ISRWD Act, 1956) when the water dispute arises among two or more State Governments, the Central Government receives a request under Section 3 of the Act from any of the basis States with regard to existence of water dispute. The status of such inter-State water disputes under ISRWD Act, 1956 is as follows:

Inter-State water disputes under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act (ISRWD), 1956
River(s) States Date of Constitution of Tribunal Date of Award
Krishna Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka April 1969 May 1976
Godavari Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa April 1969 July 1980
Narmada Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra October 1969 December 1979
Cauvery Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry June 1990 Report u/s 5(2) received 5.2.2007
Krishna Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra April 2004 30December 2010
Model/ Mandovi/Mahadayi/ Goa, Karnataka and Under Construction -
Vansadhara Andhra Pradesh & Orissa Under Construction -

In accordance with the said Act, the Central Government is required to refer a dispute to a Tribunal after it is satisfied that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations. Accordingly, the water disputes, related to Cauvery and Krishna were referred to the Tribunals for adjudication in 1990 and 2004 respectively.

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) passed an interim order on 25th June, 1991 and further clarifying orders on the interim order in April 1992 and December 1995. CWDT submitted its report and decision under Section 5(2) of the ISRWD Act, 1956 on 5.2.2007. With submission of report and decision under Section 5(2) of the Act, Central Government and the State Governments have sought explanation and guidance from the Tribunal under Section 5(3) of the Act. The matter is under consideration of the Tribunal. Further, party States have also filed SLPs in the Hon'ble Supreme Court against the decision dated 5.2.2007 of the Tribunal and the matter is sub-judice at present.

The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) passed orders on June 9, 2006 on the Interim Relief Application filed by the party States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh declining to give interim relief as sought in the application and at the same time indicating certain norms with a view to facilitate adjudication of the dispute before the Tribunal. Subsequently, State of Andhra Pradesh filed Interlocutory Application under Section 5(3) of the ISRWD Act, 1956 seeking further explanation/ guidance on the Order of the Tribunal of June 9, 2006 which is pending. The Tribunal in its hearing held in September and October 2006 has framed 29 issues for adjudication of the dispute before it. Further hearings of the Tribunal are continuing.

In respect of Mahadayi/Mandovi and Vansadhara water disputes, the requests were received from States of Goa and Orissa in July 2002 and February 2006. In respect of Mahadayi water dispute, a view has emerged in the Ministry that the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations and action has been initiated for establishment of a Tribunal. In respect of Vansadhara river water dispute, establishment of a Tribunal is in advanced stage of implementation.

Ravi & Beas Waters Tribunal (RBWT) set up in 1986 in pursuance of paragraphs 9.1 & 9.2 of Punjab Settlement (Rajiv-Longowal Accord, 1985) inter-alia to adjudicate the claims of Punjab and Haryana in Ravi-Beas waters, submitted its report on 30th January 1987. The Tribunal is to submit its further report to the Government on the references made by the party States and the Central Government seeking further guidance on its report. The hearings of the Tribunal have now become dependent on the outcome of a Presidential reference made on 22.07.2004 before the Hon'ble Supreme Court on Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.

Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal envisages delivering Haryana's share of Ravi-Beas waters. In the matter of non-completion of SYL Canal in Punjab portion, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in a judgment of 4th June 2004, had directed the Central Government to carry out its action plan for completion of the canal. Central Government took necessary action. However, Punjab legislature on 12th July 2004 enacted Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 terminating all agreements relating to Ravi-Beas Waters and obligations thereunder. A Presidential reference in the matter of the above Act was filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 22.07.2004, outcome of which is awaited.

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