New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a Bill seeking to expedite and streamline the resolution of inter-state water disputes by constituting a single tribunal with different benches, and the setting up of strict timelines for adjudication.
The Bill assumes significance as sharing of river waters is a controversial issue among riparian states.
The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was one of the seven Bills, which the Opposition wanted to be sent to a select committee.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha to amend the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, by a voice vote.
Replying to the debate on the Bill, Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said that there had been instances when a tribunal could not resolve a dispute between states for 33 years and hence a change was needed.
“We have to focus on water management as neither court nor tribunal can create water,” he said.
At present, there are nine tribunals including those on Cauvery, Mahadayi, Ravi and Beas, Vansadhara and Krishna rivers.
During the debate, there were heated exchanges between some members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Cauvery water dispute.
To this, Speaker Om Birla reported that this was not the Karnataka or Tamil Nadu Assembly. The acrimony prompted Mr Birla to intervene. In a bid to calm down the members, he observed: “This is not an assembly of Karnataka or Tamil Nadu”.
Opposition parties like the Congress and Trinamul Congress had objected to the Bill alleging that the proposed legislation has no provision for consultation with states and was an assault on the federal structure.
Congress MP Manish Tewari said the Bill has no provision for consultation with states which is an “assault on the Constitution”.
He said the Bill is “completely and absolutely flawed”.