BHUBANESWAR: Nearly 28 days after the direction from the Supreme Court, the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday approved the proposal for adjudication of the dispute on Mahanadi river waters.
Expressing displeasure over the Centre’s unclear stand on the years-long dispute on Mahanadi water sharing dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh, on January 23 the apex court had directed the Centre to constitute tribunal within a month to resolve the matter.
A division bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao had rejected the arguments of the Central Government that there was no need for an exclusive tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi river water sharing dispute and directed the Centre to begin the process for constitution of a tribunal.
As per provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, the tribunal will consist of a chairman and two other members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.
The services of two assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will also be provided to advise the tribunal in its proceedings.
The tribunal will determine water sharing among basin states on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each state, present utilisation of water resources in each state and potential for future development.
According to the ISRWD Act, the tribunal will submit its report and decision within a period of three years which can be extended to a further period not exceeding two years due to unavoidable reasons.
The Odisha Government had been demanding constitution of the tribunal for the last one year after negotiations at the level of chief ministers attended by Naveen Patnaik, Raman Singh and then union water resources minister Uma Bharti on September 17, 2016, and meeting between the chief secretaries before that had failed to find out any solution.
It is expected that with adjudication of dispute by the tribunal, the long-pending dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi river will come to a final settlement.