Mahanadi row: Reference handed over to tribunal chairman Khanwilkar

New Delhi: The secretary of the Union Water Resources Ministry, UP Singh, today handed over reference (background papers) of the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal to its chairman A M Khanwilkar, an official statement said.

The government had on March 12 issued a notification, constituting the three-member tribunal to adjudicate the dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over sharing the river’s water, following a January 23 Supreme Court order.

“Hon’ble Justice Khanwilkar was briefed by the secretary about the profile of the Mahanadi river, development of water resource projects by various states and the dispute in sharing of its waters.

“The justice was also briefed about the legal provisions for adjudication of water disputes,” the statement said.

It said Singh assured Khanwilkar that the central government is taking all necessary steps for early functioning of the tribunal and sought his guidance on the road-map for resolving the Mahanadi dispute.

Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar, judges of the Patna and the Delhi high courts respectively, are the other two members of the tribunal.

The Odisha government had on November 19, 2016, submitted a complaint under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, to the central government, seeking constitution of the tribunal.

On this, the ministry had constituted a negotiation committee, which held two meetings, but the negotiations were not successful.

The Odisha government had moved the court in December 2016 seeking an order asking Chhattisgarh to stop construction work upstream of the Mahanadi river, saying it had affected the its flow in the state. It had also pitched for setting up of the tribunal.

The tribunal would determine water sharing among basin states on the basis of the overall availability of water in the entire Mahanadi basin, contribution of each state, the present utilisation of water resource in each state and the potential for future development, official sources said.

As per provisions of the ISRWD Act, the tribunal is required to submit its report and take a decision within three years, which can be extended for a period not exceeding two years due to “unavoidable reasons”.