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Inter-State Water Dispute

  • The Central Government has decided to amend Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 (ISWDA) to constitute a permanent tribunal to decide on all inter-state water disputes that arise.

  • An agency, to collect and maintain all relevant water data, like rainfall, water flow and irrigation area, in each of the river basins of the country, is also proposed to be created.

  • Centre currently sets up ad hoc tribunals under ISWDA to adjudicate disputes as they arise. Eight tribunals have been constituted so far.

  • With water becoming scarce resource, inter-state water disputes are increasing.

  • Constitutional Provisions Article 262(1) of the Constitution lays down that “Parliament may by law 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”.

  • Parliament has enacted the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956. Interstate water dispute Act, 1956:

    Salient Features

  • Constitution of the tribunal

  • The Tribunal shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court,

  • Power to make schemes for implementing decisions of tribunal,

  • Dissolution of Tribunal and power to make rules.

  • Adjudication of water disputes,

  • Maintenance of data bank and information,

  • Bar of jurisdiction of Supreme Court and other Courts.

    Special Committee For Inter-Linking Of Rivers

  • Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Status-cum-Progress Report and constitution of “Special.

  • Committee for Inter-Linking of Rivers” in compliance of Supreme Court judgment.

  • In February 2012, the Supreme Court allowed interlinking of rivers with the condition that Special committee should be established for timely completion of feasibility reports and projects.

  • It will be chaired by Union Minister for Water Resource, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

  • The Director General of National Water Development Agency is the Member Secretary of the Committee.

    Ending Plan AND Non Plan Expenditures

  • The bifurcation of expenditures budget as plan and Non-plan had given rise to a misleading notion that plan expenditure was developmental and non-plan was non developmental.

  • This has led to the excessive focus on plan expenditure, with a corresponding neglect of items such as maintenance that was classified as Non-plan and neglect of non plan expenditure caused on acute shortage of regular cadre staff across sectors in most states.

  • It is hoped that by clubbing plan and Non plan expenditure, resource allocation would be easier; this will also help link outlays to outcomes in a better way.

  • While the plan and non-plan distinction has been dropped, an excessive focus on ‘capital’ and `revenue’ classification of expenditure could be problematic for important social sectors like education and health, where large proportions of government spending are reported as Revenue expenditure.

  • An important intent of the erstwhile 5 year plan process was to correct regional imbalances by sanctioning packages. The focus should not be lost.

  • The union ministries should continue to make interventions for reducing regional disparity by identifying backward regions and channelising additional public resources to those.


  • Budget 2016–17 has made three important Provisions relating to central transfers to states.

  • Government of India through NITI Aayog constituted a subgroup of chief ministers for rationalizing and restructuring the CSS.

  • It recommended that focus of the CSS should be on the schemes that comprise the National Development Agenda.

  • It further recommended that the schemes be divided into “Core” and “Optional” schemes and amongst the Core Schemes those for social protection and inclusion should be called “Core of the Core”.

  • The subgroup further recommended that the investment levels in the Core Schemes should be maintained so as to ensure that the optimum size of the programme does not shrink.

  • New Framework for Grants in Budget 2016-17

  • The government on the recommendation of the subgroup of chief ministers restructured the grants.

  • As per the decision of Government, the existing funding pattern of schemes defined as ‘core of the core’ have been retained.

  • The funding pattern of ‘core’ schemes, which also form part of the National Development agenda, will be shared 60:40 between the Centre and the States (90:10 for the 8 North Eastern States and 3 Himalayan states).

  • In case a scheme/sub-scheme in the above classification that has a Central Funding pattern of less than 60:40, the existing funding pattern will continue.

  • The other optional schemes will be optional for the State Governments and their fund sharing pattern will be 50:50 between the Centre and the States (80:20 for the 8 North Eastern States and 3 Himalyan States).

  • Examples of such schemes are Border Area Development Programme, National River Conservation Plan, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee RURBAN Mission etc.

  • In Union Budget 2016–17 the total number of CSS has been brought down to 28.

  • Devolution of taxes post the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) award

  • Tax devolution has witnessed a major jump in the total resource transfers to states due to the increase in tax devolution to 42% of the divisible pool.

  • Aggregate transfer to states 2 in 2016–17 is ₹9, 18,093 crore as compared to ₹8, 18,034 crore in 2015–16.

  • Effective outcome-based monitoring of implementation of schemes and doing away with the plan and non-plan expenditure distinction in the budget after the completion of the Twelfth Five Year Plan

  • An exercise to rationalize Plan and Non Plan schemes of all Ministries and Departments had been undertaken.

  • The existing programmes and schemes have been re-organized into outcome based Umbrella programmes and schemes to avoid thin spread of resources.

    Special Category Status: Recent Approach Of Government:

  • Several changes over the years, more particularly those introduced in the Union Budget 2015-16, have resulted in considerable dilution of benefits to the ‘Special Category States’.

  • Following the increase in tax devolution to States from 32 to 42 per cent of divisible pool of central taxes, the Centre has dispensed with normal plan assistance, special central assistance and special plan assistance from 2015-16 onwards.

  • The share of normal central assistance in total plan assistance, which was the predominant channel of central plan assistance to States had come down to just 15 per cent with the proliferation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).

  • The only attraction that remains is the benefit of assistance for externally aided projects (90 per cent grant). There are very few externally aided projects in the ‘Special Category States’.

  • The Union Budget 2015-16 has drastically reduced the allocations under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

  • The Finance Commission does not distinguish between special and non-special category states in its allocation. Currently, there are 11 states with Special Category Status – Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and all North Eastern states.

  • Way Ahead

  • Granting special status to any new State may result in domino effect and lead to demands from other States.

  • It is also not economically beneficial for States to seek special status as the benefits under the current dispensation are minimal.

  • States facing special problems should try and seek a package from centre for focussed development.

  • The packages provided by centre could be in tranches and incentive based after assessing the progress of states.

    Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)

  • The scheme seeks to connect unconnected towns with the help of Viability gap funding (VGF).

  • The scheme proposes to offer concessions to the airlines to encourage them to fly on regional routes.

  • The central government will fund 80% of the losses incurred by the airlines by flying on regional routes. The rest of the loss will be covered by the states.

  • The states will also incentivize the airlines in the form of lower excise duty at 2% and VAT at 1% on aviation turbine fuel at RCS airports.

  • RCS will be implemented only in those states which reduce VAT on ATF to 1% or less and offer other support services and 20% of VGF.

  • The VGF will be funded by charging a cess per departure on domestic flights at a rate decided by the aviation ministry from time to time.

  • The VGF will be shared between the aviation ministry and the states in the ratio of 80:20. In case of the North Eastern States the ratio will be 90:10.

  • The government has proposed a cap of Rs 2500 for an hour’s flight on regional routes to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

  • The government also proposes to exempt airlines from all landing, parking and other charges on the RCS airports.

  • Bilateral Traffic Rights

  • The government has plans to liberalize bilateral rights.

  • This will lead to greater ease of doing business and will offer wider choice to passengers.

  • The policy provides for ‘Open Sky’ air service agreements (ASA) on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and those countries located beyond 5000 km from Delhi.

  • Open Sky agreements allows airlines from two countries to operate an unlimited number of flights to each other.

  • What are bilateral air service agreements (ASA)?

  • Under ASAs, two contracting countries allow their respective to fly in to each other’s territory.

  • The two nations fix equal number of seats or air capacity.

  • The countries then distribute these rights to their airlines.

  • India has signed ASAs with 109 countries. Code Sharing Agreements Under the new policy, the Indian carriers would be free to enter into code sharing agreements with foreign carriers for the destinations within India on a reciprocal basis.

  • Similarly, International code sharing agreements will also be liberalized.

  • What are code share agreements?

  • When two or more airlines enter into code share agreements, then they will be able to share the same flight.

  • Simply put, an airline can purchase seats on a flight actually operated by another airline under a different flight number or code.

  • Ground Handling Policy The Ground Handling policy will be replaced by a new framework. All domestic scheduled Indian carriers as well as helicopter operators will be allowed to deploy their employs for self handling at all airports.

  • Airports/ PPP The new policy aims to encourage the development of airports by state governments, AAI, private sector through PPP mode.

  • For future airports, tariffs will be calculated on a ‘hybrid till’ basis. Under this model, airport charges will be levied based on an airline’s aeronautical revenue and part of its non-aeronautical revenue.

Aviation Security, Immigration And Customs

  • Service delivery modules’ will be developed for aviation security, Immigration, Customs in consultation with the concerned ministries.

  • Use of private security agencies will be encouraged at airports for non-core security operations in consultation with home ministry.

  • Helicopters Separate regulations for helicopters will be notified by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

  • Helicopters will be allowed to fly freely without prior ATC clearance below 5000 feet as well as in airspaces which are not controlled/prohibited/restricted.

  • Also, the airport charges for the helicopters will be rationalized.

  • Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) The new policy aims to give a push to this sector.

  • The MRO business of the Indian carriers is estimated to be around Rs 5000 crore. But 90% is currently spent outside India.

  • The government will make provisions for suitable incentives for MRO activities and service providers.

  • Scheduled Commuter Airlines (SCA)

  • The new policy has also proposed to promote a new category of airlines to boost remote connectivity called the Scheduled Commuter Airlines (SCA. These are essentially lower capacity carriers connecting remote locations.

  • These are also expected to be low cost carriers as they would benefit from probable relaxed guidelines, fiscal support and subsidy support.

  • The eligibility criteria for SCAs are:

  • Paid-up capital will be Rs 2 crore; Aircraft should have a capacity of 100 seats or less; No restrictions on number of aircrafts.

  • SCAs need to operate a minimum prescribed number of movements per week to RCS destinations. SCAs can enter into code shares with other airlines.

    Inter-State Council Meeting

  • Recently, the eleventh meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) was held after a gap of 10 years. Article 263 provides the establishment of an Inter-State Council to effect coordination between the states and between Centre and states.

  • It is not a permanent constitutional body.

  • It can be established ‘at any time’ if it appears to the President that the public interests would be served by the establishment of such a Council.

  • First time it was set up on the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission and established the ISC by a presidential ordinance on May 28, 1990.

  • The ISC is proposed to meet thrice a year, but in 26 years, it has met only 11 times.

  • Composition Prime Minister acts as the chairman of the council.

  • Members:

  • Union Ministers of Cabinet rank in the Union Council of Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister.

  • Chief Ministers of all states and Chief Ministers of Union Territories having a Legislative Assembly and Administrators of UTs not having a Legislative Assembly.


  • The 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council was held in October, 2016 under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister.

  • The Zonal Councils are mandated to discuss and make recommendations on economy and social planning, border disputes, inter-State transport and linguistic minorities related issues.

  • About Zonal Council

  • The idea of zonal councils emerged during the course of debate on the report of the States Re-organisation Commission 1956.

  • In the light of the vision of Pandit Nehru, five Zonal Councils were set up under the States Re-organisationAct, 1956.

  • Zonal councils are not constitutional bodies, they are statutory bodies

  • The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya and (vii) Nagaland (viii) Sikkim are not included in the Zonal Councils

  • And their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.


  • The powers of the Lieutenant Governor are being debated after LG of Puducherry made a statement that she could choose to overlook the legislature depending on circumstances.

  • UTs and its Administration Every UT are administered by the President through an “Administrator” appointed by him.

  • The “Administrator” of the UT has powers similar to that of the Governor but he is just a representative of the President and not the constitutional head of the state like the Governor.

  • The administrator may be designated as Lieutenant Governor, Chief Commissioner or Administrator.

  • The powers and functions of the Administrator of a UT are defined under Article 239 and 239AA of the Indian Constitution.

  • The UTs of Delhi and Puducherry have been provided with a legislative assembly and Council of Ministers.

  • Therefore the Administrators of these two UTs are meant to act upon the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers.

  • Article 239AA deals with Special provisions with respect to Delhi.

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