Inter-State Relations Current Affairs - 2020

Central Government forms Cauvery Water Management Authority

Following directions from Supreme Court, the Central Government has constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) to address the dispute over sharing of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

In February, 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed centre to form the CMA within six weeks. In the same verdict, the court had also increased Karnataka’s share in Cauvery Water marginally.

Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA)

The newly constituted Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme earlier framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.

Composition and Powers of CMA

·       The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.  Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side.

·       Rest four will be part time members from states. The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.

·       CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency. It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.

·       The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.

Role of Central Government

The central government will provide help in implementation of the modified award in case of any of the state /UT parties (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry) do not cooperate in implementing the decision or direction of the tribunal. Initially, centre will contribute Rs. 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.

Cauvery Water Regulation Committee

Along with CMA, the government has also established Cauvery Water Regulation Committee that shall give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court order. This committee will meet every 10 days during months of June and October when the south-west and north-east monsoon set in and again after the monsoon has set in.

Government to set up single tribunal to arbitrate inter-State water disputes

The Union Government has decided to set up a single permanent Tribunal to adjudicate all inter-State river water disputes.

This single body will subsume all existing tribunals for resolving grievances of inter-State water disputes in a speedy manner. It will be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.

The Tribunal will also have more teeth as whenever it gives order, the verdict gets notified automatically. Until now, the Union Government was required to notify the awards, causing delay in its implementation.

Newly proposed mechanisms

Benches for adjudicating inter-State river water disputes
  • Besides the tribunal, the Union Government has also proposed to float some Benches by amending the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 to look into disputes as and when required.
  • Unlike the tribunal, these benches will cease to exist once the disputes are resolved.
  • Earlier water tribunals took decades to deliver final awards into disputes, whereas the proposed Tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict during a span of three years.
Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC)
  • Along with the tribunal, the amendment also has been proposed to set up Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC).
  • The DRC will be comprising experts and policy-makers. It is proposed to handle disputes prior to the tribunal.
  • The Union Government will set up a DRC whenever a state will request. Most of the disputes will be resolved at the DRC’s level itself. But if a State is not satisfied, it can approach the tribunal.

About Interstate River Water Disputes Act

Inter-state River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act) was enacted by the parliament of India under Article 262 of Constitution. Its purpose is to resolve the water disputes that would arise in the use, control and distribution of an interstate river or river valley.