The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved setting up of tribunal for adjudication of long-pending dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over Mahanadi river waters.
The tribunal was constituted under Inter-State River Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 on request of Odisha and is in line with Supreme Court’s order issued in January 2018. Odisha was repeatedly sought formation of tribunal stating that negotiations have failed to resolve the matter.
The Tribunal shall determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, present utilization of water resources in each state and potential for future development.
As per provisions of ISRWD Act, 1956, the Tribunal will consist of Chairman and two other members nominated by Chief Justice of India (CJI) from amongst Judges of Supreme Court or High Court. Further, services of two assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will advise Tribunal in its proceedings. The Tribunal will have to submit its report and decision within period of 3 years as per ISRWD Act, 1956 which can be extended to further period not exceeding 2 years due to unavoidable reasons.
Since mid-80s, Odisha and Chhattisgarh are locked in dispute over sharing of water of Mahanadi River. Odisha has claimed that Chhattisgarh government has been constructing dams in upper reaches of Mahanadi, depriving its farmers who are heavily dependent on river water. Chhattisgarh has been against the setting up of a tribunal, and argued that water sharing agreement was with erstwhile Madhya Pradesh government, before state bifurcated in 2000.
Mahanadi is major river in East Central India. It drains an area of around 141,600 square kilometres and has total course of 858 kilometres. It flows through Chhattisgarh and Odisha. It originates from highlands of Chhattisgarh through collection of array of streams and reaches Bay of Bengal. It left bank tributaries are Shivnath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo and right bank are Ong, parry river, Jonk, Telen.