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Current Affairs

Cabinet approves Inter-State River Water disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Date: 11 July 2019 Tags: Bills & Laws

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Inter-State River Water disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valley thereof. The Bill seeks to amend Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 with view to streamline adjudication of inter-state river water disputes and make present institutional architecture robust. It will further streamline the adjudication of inter-State river water disputes.

Key Features of Bill

  • It mandates Central Government to set up Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), for resolving any inter-state water dispute amicably. 
  • DRC will get period of one year, extendable by six months, to submit its report to the central government. DRC’s members will be from relevant fields, as deemed fit by central government.
  • It proposes to set up single, permanent Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate on inter-state river water disputes to streamline existing dispute redressal mechanism. This tribunal can have multiple benches.
  • Composition of the Tribunal: It will consist of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and not more than six nominated members (judges of Supreme Court or of a High Court), nominated by Chief Justice of India (CJI). Central government is also empowered to appoint two experts serving in Central Water Engineering Service (CWC), not below rank of Chief Engineer, as assessors to advise the bench in its proceedings.
  • Time limit to Tribunal to take its decision:  The proposed tribunal has to give its decision on dispute within a period of 2 years.  This period is extendable by maximum of 1 year. Central Government can give extension up to a maximum of six months.
  • Decision of Tribunal:  The decision of the bench of the tribunal will be final and binding on the parties involved in the dispute.  This decision will have same force as that of an order of the Supreme Court. It does away publishing tribunal’s decision in official gazette. 
  • Dissolution of existing tribunals: After constituting permanent tribunal, all existing tribunals will be dissolved and water disputes pending adjudication before such existing tribunals will be transferred to this newly formed tribunal.
  • Maintenance of data bank and information:  it empowers Central government to appoint or authorise agency to maintain a data bank and information system at the national level for each river basin.
  • Additional rule -making powers:  It empowers central government will additional powers to make rules in which water will be distributed during stress situations arising from shortage in availability of water.

Impact

Constitution of single water dispute tribunal with different benches along with fixation of strict timelines for adjudication will result expeditious resolution of disputes relating to inter-state rivers. It will speed up the adjudication of water disputes referred to it.