A Single Tribunal For River Water Disputes Proposed

water crisis

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The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which has a feature of setting up a single tribunal for river water disputes has been approved by the Union Cabinet.


  • The Bill if passed will amend the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
  • A single tribunal with multiple benches as proposed in the bill will help streamline adjudication of inter-state water disputes.
  • The bill has provisions for adjudication of the disputes in a time-bound manner.
  • As per the 1956 act, when a state government requests for adjudication with respect to inter-state river water dispute, the central government used to constitute a tribunal. This has led to the formation of over a dozen tribunals.
  • With the new Bill, there will be a permanent office space for the tribunal and proper infrastructure to handle the disputes.
  • This saves time and resources in the form of avoiding the need for establishing office space and other logistics every time a tribunal is formed.
  • As per the Bill, the Dispute Resolution Committee that is set up by the union government will resolve the dispute in 18 months.
  • The tribunal will handle all those cases where dispute resolution was not possible through negotiations.
  • The chairperson of the tribunal will assign the dispute to a bench for adjudication.
  • The Bill also proposes changes to the members’ composition in the tribunals. A technical expert can also head a tribunal.
  • Presently, only the members from the Judiciary, nominated by the Chief Justice are part of the tribunals.

Article 262

  • Article 262 of the Constitution allows the central government to have a role in adjudicating river water sharing disputes between states.
  • The Act of 1956 was enacted in this regard.
  • It has not given the desired results with disputes lingering for long periods (in some cases for over two decades).

The Bill, when passed will give a flip to river water dispute adjudication and make for timely judgments

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