Bill for water dispute tribunal

Bill for water dispute tribunal

The Centre on Monday introduced a bill in Parliament to create a single, permanent tribunal  to adjudicate all inter-state river disputes.

The tribunal, created through the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017, will subsume all existing tribunals.

The bill provides for a single standing tribunal with multiple benches rather than multiple tribunals to enable speedy redressal of grievances. It will have one chairperson, one vice chairperson and a maximum of six members.

The legislation, introduced on Monday in Lok Sabha by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, would dissolve all existing tribunals and transfer their work to the single tribunal.

Bharti ruled out possibilities of reopening issues already adjudicated and settled by existing tribunals before the single tribunal comes into effect.

The chairperson’s tenure will be five years or till he or she attains the age of 70, whichever is earliest, while the terms of office of vice chairman and members will be co-terminus with the adjudication of the water disputes.

The legislation also calls for appointing an assessor to offer technical support to the tribunal. The assessor will be selected from the experts serving the Central Water Engineering Service not below the rank of chief engineer.

The maximum time to adjudicate disputes has been fixed as four-and-a-half years. The tribunal’s decision will be final and binding obviating the need to publish in the gazette.
The bill also provides for transparent data collection at the national level from each river basin.

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