Constitutional mechanism to resolve the inter-state water disputes have failed to address and solve the problems. Is the failure due to structural or process inadequacy or both? Discuss.
- In the introduction, mention the constitutional provision along with few examples of inter-state water disputes.
- Discuss various issues with the mechanism : Structural and process inadequacy
- Provide some suggestions
In pursuance of Article 262, Inter-state water dispute Act was passed empowering the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication. It also excluded jurisdiction of Supreme Court or any other court from the dispute resolution matter. However, disputes like Cauveri water, Mahadeyi river etc. point out towards various issues with the existing mechanism.
- There is no structure to promote multi-stakeholder approach in negotiation. Often farmers and villagers whose livelihoods depend on the river in dispute are excluded.
- There is no institutional arrangement within state and beyond at inter-state river basin which can facilitate the exchange of hydrological information.
- A platform to resolve disputes at early stage through negotiations, conciliation or mediation is missing.
- A structure in the form of appellate tribunal to appeal against the verdict is absent. The verdict of tribunal is final and binding on parties.
- Despite having no jurisdiction, SC frequently accepts the case through special leave petition (SLP). It further complicates the matter, as SC does not have the technical capacity to assess the case. E.g. – In 2016, SC asked Karnataka government to release 6000 cusecs of water without any scientific backing.
- No process to ensure timely establishment of tribunals by Centre and also there is no fixed timeline for tribunals to deliver verdict. Request for Cauvery water dispute tribunal had been pending since 1970 and tribunal constituted in 1990. This loophole was fixed through IWD amendment act of 2000 which made it mandatory to constitute tribunal within 1 year and final judgement by tribunal within 3 years. However, this timeline is not followed.
- There is no process to fix the accountability of Central government with this regard. Centre often delays the publication of verdict given by the tribunal in official gazettes.
- Also, there is no process to fix the accountability of states involved. States wilfully disobey the verdict.
The current mechanism suffers from both types of inadequacy: structural as well as process. However, followingthe principles of equity as enshrined in National Water Policy 2016 and motivating farmers to cultivate suitable crops using water efficient processes can help us to address the issue.
Subjects : Current Affairs