Inter-State River Water Sharing Disputes: Latest Official Information

On the complaint made by the State Governments, the Central Government has, so far, set up eight tribunals to settle water disputes among the States under the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 which includes Ravi and Beas Water Tribunal set up for dispute among basin states including Haryana and Rajasthan.

Government of Bihar has sent a request on November 27, 2013 under provision of ISRWD Act, 1956 to the Ministry of Water Resources for constitution of a Tribunal for adjudication of river water disputes related to Sone basin. Negotiations were carried out by Chairman, GFCC and Chairman, CWC with the States of U.P. and Bihar. It has been agreed that the two States of U.P. and Bihar would meet periodically and try to solve the issue bilaterally. The dispute has since been settled.

State of Odisha has also filed complaint under Section 3 of ISRWD Act, 1956 in 2016 with respect to Mahanadi basin and the Central Government has constituted a Negotiation Committee for settlement of the dispute through negotiation. The first meeting of the Committee was held on February 28, 2017 which was attended by all basin States except State of Odisha. In the meeting it was felt that there is a need for proper and scientific assessment of the yield of the basin and accordingly decided to collect the relevant data in a time bound manner.

As per information available in Central Water Commission (CWC) publication 2015 “Agreements on Inter-State Rivers”, Vol. III of Legal Instruments on Rivers in India, a number of inter-state agreements have been reached so far.  Shares of Rajasthan and Haryana in Ravi-Beas, Satluj, and Upper Yamuna basin are determined by Agreements of 1981, 1959 and 1994 reached inter-alia between the two States.

Parties to Agreements/decision of Tribunals are entitled to their share of water in concerned river basin as per provisions of such Agreements/decision of Tribunals. This Ministry does not maintain such records. However, supply of water to concerned States varies on year to year basis depending mainly on availability of water in the basin/reservoirs in a particular year and other relevant factors and is monitored by the concerned Board/Authority/regulatory body functioning in a particular river basin project.

The mechanism for settlement of water disputes is already available in the form of ISRWD Act, 1956. The ISRWD Act, 1956 has been last amended in 2002 whereby adjudication of the water disputes by tribunals has been made time bound after consultation with all State Governments.

Further, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation adopted a revised National Water Policy (NWP) in 2012.

As per Clause 12.2 of the Policy, a permanent Water Disputes Tribunal at the Centre should be established to resolve the disputes expeditiously in an equitable manner. The proposal to set up a standing tribunal to adjudicate interstate river water disputes has been approved by the Cabinet and Notice for introduction of Bill for the same has been sent.