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

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Peeved at the slow progress beingmade by various tribunals dealing with sensitive inter-statewater disputes, government is contemplating formation of asingle permanent body to tackle such cases.

"It takes years for the tribunals looking into waterdisputes to settle the matter. We need to revisit the system.

After all, water is precious," Law Minister M Veerappa Moilysaid here.

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

Maintaining that there was a need to "revisit" thepresent system, he said either a single tribunal should be setup to deal with all inter-state disputes or the matters shouldbe handed over to the judiciary to settle the issues on a fasttrack basis.

"The tribunals are not serving the purpose. We need tolook into that," he told PTI. The Minister did not say whetherhis ministry has received a request from the Water ResourcesMinistry to look into the legal aspects before a final callcould be taken into the matter.

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

"Instead of several tribunals looking into differentdisputes, we can have one permanent tribunal to deal with allinter-state water disputes," the sources said.

The second idea is to all together abolish theinter-state Water Disputes Act and ask states to directlyapproach the Supreme Court -- and not the High Courts-- with their cases.

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

The Cauvery Tribunal looking into dispute betweenKarnataka and Tamil Nadu had given its final award inFebruary, 2007.

Vansadhara Tribunal is looking into water disputebetween Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

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

A notification constituting the tribunal is likely tobe issued soon.

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