Mains Paper 2: Polity | Functions & responsibilities of the Union & the States, issues & challenges pertaining to the federal structure
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Verdict on Water Sharing
Mains level: River water disputes in India
Award of the Tribunal
- The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal which has been hearing the tussle over sharing of the Mahadayi or Mandovi river between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, delivered its final verdict.
- Ending a 50-year-old dispute, the tribunal allowed Karnataka access to 13.4 tmc of water for its consumptive use (5.4 tmc) and power generation (8.02 tmc).
- The share of Goa was pegged at 24 tmc with the Tribunal allowing it for the state’s municipal water needs, irrigation water requirements and industrial water demands.
- Maharashtra got the lowest share of 1.33 tmc for meeting its in-basin needs with respect to five projects.
- The tribunal also directed the Centre to set up the Mahadayi Water Management Authority to implement its report and final decision.
Quick recap of the issue
- The Mahadayi river basin drains an area of 2032 square kilometres of which 375 square km lies in Karnataka, 77 sq km in Maharashtra and the remaining in Goa.
- It originates in the Belagavi district of Karnataka, briefly passes through Maharashtra and flows through Goa (where its known as Mandovi), and drains to the Arabian Sea
- Since the eighties, Karnataka has been was contemplating linking of Mahadayi with Malaprabha river, a tributary of Krishna
- In 2002, Karnataka gave the idea a shape in the form of the Kalasa-Bhanduri project
- Goa strongly opposed it as Mahadayi is one of the two rivers the State is dependent on and thus Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010
Interstate River Water Disputes Act
- 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.
- It sets basis to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river 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.
- River waters use / harnessing is included in states jurisdiction (entry 17 of state list, Schedule 7 of Indian Constitution).
- However, union government can make laws on regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys when expedient in the public interest (entry 56 of union list, Schedule 7 of Indian Constitution).
- When public interest is served, President may also establish an interstate council as per Article 263 to inquire and recommend on the dispute that has arisen between the states of India.
- This act is confined to states of India and not applicable to union territories.
- Any river water sharing treaty made with other countries has to be ratified by the Parliament per Article 253 and all the riparian states of India per Article 252 to make the treaty constitutionally valid.
Tribunals under IRWD Act
- Whenever the riparian states are not able to reach amicable agreements on their own in sharing of an interstate river waters, Section 4 of IRWD Act provides dispute resolution process in the form of Tribunal.
- As per Section 5.2 of the Act, the tribunal shall not only adjudicate but also investigate the matters referred to it by the central government and forward a report setting out the facts with its decisions.
- Under Section 6A of this Act, central government may frame a scheme or schemes to give effect to the decision of a tribunal. Each scheme has provision to establish an authority for implementation of a tribunal verdict.
- When a tribunal verdict, after formally gazetted by the union government shall be complied by the union government as the tribunal verdict is equal to Supreme Court verdict.