Centre forms tribunal to resolve Mahanadi issue

SC Judge AM Khanwilkar nominated to head 3-member tribunal.

BHUBANESWAR:THE Centre on Monday constituted the Mahanadi Water Dispute Tribunal for adjudication of longstanding disputes between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing of Mahanadi river water. The tribunal with three members was formed under Section-4 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 following a directive of the Supreme Court on January 23, said a notification of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) has nominated Supreme Court Judge A M Khanwilkar as chairman of the Tribunal. The two other members are Justice Ravi Ranjan of Patna High Court and Jusitce Indwermeet Kaur Kochar of Delhi High Court. The State Government had moved the Supreme Court in 2016 seeking a direction to Chhattisgarh Government to stop all construction of barrages and dams on the upper stream of the Mahanadi river. It had also sought the formation of a tribunal to resolve the issue. Following the apex court order, the Union Cabinet on February 20, 2018 approved the proposal to constitute a tribunal. The tribunal will determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution and present utilisation of water resources in each state and the potential for future development, official sources said.

Further, services of two assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will be provided to advise the tribunal in its proceedings. The tribunal with headquarters in New Delhi is required to 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 formation of the tribunal comes after the apex court in December 2017 pulled up the Central Government for not forming the tribunal. Thereafter in January, SC directed the Central Government to constitute the tribunal within one month to resolve the issue.

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