New Delhi: The government on Tuesday introduced a Bill to amend inter-state water dispute law by proposing to constitute a permanent tribunal with power of the Supreme Court.
Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha. The Minister argued that in the light of disputes among states on sharing of water having become regular with stakeholders approaching the Supreme Court the Bill has been introduced, which will constitute a permanent body consisting of a chairman, who would be a retired Supreme Court Judge of age not exceeding 70 years, a vice-chairman and six members.
However, BJD leader Bhartuhari Mahtab opposed the introduction of the Bill, arguing that the Centre is attempting to intrude into the domain of the state. "The Bill being introduced was drafted in the times of the UPA government and it has been badly drafted. Water is a state subject and since the British times, the state governments have only legislated on water issues. There is no merit in the Bill and the government should withdraw it and first hold discussions with all the 29 states," stated Mahtab.
However, Bharti refuted the claims, saying that under Article 262 of Constitution, the Parliament has the power to legislate on water issues. She also referred to the inter-state water disputes between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to further argue for the necessity of the legislation. "In place of multiple tribunals, the Bill proposes a single permanent tribunal whose award will have the same power as of the Supreme Court. The Odisha government only recently called upon the Centre to constitute a tribunal, which negates the argument of Mahtab that the Centre should not legislate on inter-state water dispute. We have the will and the strength to execute what the UPA government failed to do," added Bharati.
The Lok Sabha later approved the introduction of the Bill.