From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Tribunals
Mains level : Interstate water disputes
- The Union Cabinet has approved the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The Bill seeks to amend the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes.
- A key feature of the bill is the constitution of a single tribunal with different Benches, and the setting of strict timelines for adjudication.
- It will help adjudicate disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
- A version of this bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2017 but subsequently lapsed.
Why need a single tribunal?
- Any State Government may request under the 1956 Act is for any water dispute on the inter-State rivers.
- When the Central government is of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled by negotiations it constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication.
- There are about a dozen tribunals that now exist to resolve disputes among States on sharing water from rivers common to them.
- The standalone tribunal so envisaged will have a permanent establishment and permanent office space and infrastructure so as to obviate with the need to set up a separate Tribunal for each water dispute, a time consuming process.
Dispute Resolution Committee
- The Bill also proposes a Dispute Resolution Committee set up by the Central Government for amicably resolving inter-State water disputes within 18 months.
- Any dispute that cannot be settled by negotiations would be referred to the tribunal for its adjudication.
- The dispute so referred to the tribunal shall be assigned by the chairperson of the tribunal to a Bench of the tribunal for adjudication.
- The Bill can also affect the composition of the members of various tribunals, and has a provision to have a technical expert as the head of the tribunal.
- Currently all tribunals are staffed by members of the judiciary, nominated by the Chief Justice.