Separate Tribunal to solve Mahanadi water dispute: Pradhan

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Sambalpur: Clearing the air on the Centre’s recent decision to set up a single Tribunal to adjudicate all inter-state river water disputes, Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday said that a Tribunal will be formed to solve Mahanadi issue between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

“As demanded by the State government, based on current laws, a Tribunal will be formed to solve the Mahanadi issue. But the proposal to form a single tribunal for all inter-state water disputes, which is under consideration with the government of India, will take a shape at a later stage. This will act like a quasi judicial body”, Pradhan told reporters after attending a public meeting here.

On Sunday Water Resources Ministry secretary Shashi Shekhar said besides the single Tribunal, the 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, the benches will cease to exist once the disputes are resolved.

“There will be only one permanent Tribunal with retired Supreme Court judge as its chairperson. There will be benches formed as and when required. The benches though will be wound up once a dispute is resolve,” Shekhar had said. Earlier, Shekhar said, water tribunals “took ages” to deliver final awards into disputes, where as the proposed Tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict during a span of three years.

Last month the Odisha government had filed a petition with the Centre for setting up of a tribunal to resolve the Mahanadi river water dispute and direct Chhattisgarh to stop construction of barrages over river Mahanadi with immediate effect. The State government which filed the petition under section 3 of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 has requested the Centre to ask the Chhattisgarh government to stop all construction activities on river Mahanadi and its tributaries till the issue is settled.

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