Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal:
The Central Government has constituted Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal on 12.03.2018 under Section 4 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 for adjudication of water dispute regarding the inter-state river Mahanadi.
At present the dispute is under adjudication in the Tribunal under Section 5 (2) of Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
What is Section 5(2) of Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956?
- As per Section 5(2) of Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 – “The Tribunal shall investigate the matters referred to it and forward to the Central Government a report setting out the facts as found by it and giving its decision on the matters referred to it within a period of three years.
- Provided that if the decision cannot be given for unavoidable reason, within a period of three years, the Central Government may extend the period for a further period not exceeding two years”.
- Thereafter, under Section 5(3) of the said Act, the Central Government/State Government(s) may again refer the matter to the Tribunal for further consideration, which may then give its further report within one year, with the option to extend for such further period as Central Government considers necessary.
Inter-state water disputes
Article 262 states that the Parliament may 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. As per Article 262, the Parliament has enacted the following:
- River Board Act, 1956 – This empowered the GOI to establish Boards for Interstate Rivers and river valleys in consultation with State Governments. Till date, no river board has been created.
- Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956 – Under this act, if a state government or governments approach the Centre for the constitution of a tribunal, the government may form a tribunal after trying to resolve the dispute through consultations.
About Mahanadi water dispute
- The dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi began when Odisha alleged that the upper riparian state Chhattisgarh had “illegally” constructed a number of barrages across the river and its tributaries, which had seriously affected inflow into the Hirakud reservoir in Odisha, more so in the non-monsoon seasons.
- The Odisha government has not only termed the construction of such barrages as “illegal“, it has also alleged that such barrages are killing the Mahanadi river.
- As the matter remained unresolved, the Supreme Court directed the Union government to form a river dispute tribunal. The Union government has subsequently notified the formation of the Mahanadi river dispute tribunal on March 12, 2018.
- At the heart of the dispute over Mahanadi water lies the huge Hirakud dam and reservoir. Odisha’s allegation of reduced flow to the Hirakud reservoir from Chhattisgarh triggered the dispute. The location of the Hirakud dam project makes it the crux of the dispute. Almost all of the reservoir’s catchment lies in Chhattisgarh.
- Hirakud Dam is one of the important generators of hydro-power in Odisha, a large supplier of water to industrial and urban demands, and also has the objective to ensure flow in the Mahanadi to meet drinking water, ecological and other needs.