Single tribunal to expedite Mahanadi water dispute settlement: Meghwal

Bhubaneswar/Raipur: Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal said that a single national Tribunal will help resolve the Mahanadi inter-state river dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

“The Centre is mulling setting up a single tribunal by amending the existing inter-state River Water Dispute Act. A revised bill regarding this was sent to the Standing Committee after being tabled in the Lok Sabha,” Meghwal stated.

“The bill will be tabled in the upcoming Monsoon session of the Parliament,” the union minister said adding that instead of having so many tribunals, a single national tribunal will be more helpful for solving the water disputes between states while keeping up the nation’s interest.

Reacting on Meghwal’s comments, the BJD’s Prasanna Acharya said Centre’s move for a single tribunal will push the dispute to further uncertainty.

“There are so many pending bills that are waiting to be passed in the Rajya Sabha. Some have already been rejected and so there is a level of uncertainty. The BJP-led NDA does not have clear majority in the Upper House of the Parliament. Hence we don’t understand why the Centre is intentionally pushing the Mahanadi row into uncertainty,” senior party leader Prasanna Acharya said.

Congress too raised concerns over the issue. “Earlier they had raised similar objections to a separate Mahanadi Tribunal which led to delay in the Supreme Court’s decision. Now after the apex court’s order when a tribunal has already been set up to resolve the Mahanadi row, the Centre is once again raking up talks of a single tribunal instead of expediting the works of the existing tribunal. This will certainly further the delay the matter,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik said.

Earlier on March 12 this year, the Union water resources ministry issued a notification constituting a three-member Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate the dispute.

Supreme Court judge Justice A.M. Khanwilkar has been named the Chairman of the Tribunal, formed as per a January 23 apex court order to the Centre. Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar, judges of Patna High Court and Delhi High Court respectively are the two other members of the tribunal.