Interstate River Water Dispute

[pib] Status of Mahanadi Tribunal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Inter-state water dispute

Mains level: Inter-state water dispute

At present, the Mahanadi dispute is under adjudication in the Tribunal under Section 5 (2) of Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956

Note the interrelation between the Article 262 and 253.They contain provisions related to international and interstate water sharing.

Mahanadi Tribunal

  • The Central Government has constituted Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal in 2018 under Section 4 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
  • It is set to adjudicate on water disputes between the riparian States of Odisha and Chhattisgarh
  • The tribunal is expected to give its verdict within a period of three years.
  • Provided that if the decision cannot be given for an unavoidable reason, within a period of three years, the Central Government may extend the period for a further period not exceeding two years.

What is the dispute about?

  • Chhattisgarh has been constructing dams and weirs (small dams) upstream the Mahanadi. This is being allegedly carried on without consulting Odisha.
  • It would affect the flow of the river downstream and affect drinking water supply. Also, it would impact the irrigation facilities in Odisha and adversely affect the interests of the farmers.
  • Moreover, the weirs and other projects would impact the flow of water in the Hirakud reservoir, a multipurpose river valley project, which is a lifeline for many in the state.

Back2Basics: Water Disputes Resolution in India

  • The Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act) is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted under Article 262 of Constitution of India on the eve of the reorganization of states on the linguistic basis to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river[1] or river valley.
  • Article 262 of the Indian Constitution provides a role for the Central government in adjudicating conflicts surrounding inter-state rivers that arise among the state/regional governments.
  • This Act further has undergone amendments subsequently and its most recent amendment took place in the year 2002.
  • A/c to art 262, the Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
  • Parliament may by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.

Note: Any river water sharing treaty made with other countries, has to be ratified by the Parliament as per Article 253 after deciding the share of the Indian riparian states per Article 262 to make the treaty constitutionally valid or enforceable by the judiciary. The government has signed Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan, Ganga water-sharing treaty with Bangladesh, etc. without the ratification by the Parliament and the consent of concerned riparian states per Article 252.

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