Why is it in the news?
The Chief Minister of Karnataka has stated that it is past time to review the Inter-State River Water Problems Act, claiming that it is producing more disputes than it is resolving. Karnataka is currently immersed in a protracted legal struggle with neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh over interstate water disputes involving the Cauvery, Mahadayi, and Krishna rivers.
The imperative of the hour:
- In a single move, the multi-tiered approach to settling interstate water problems is eliminated.
- The answer should be based on maximising the use of a river basin’s capacity and using technology, regardless of political considerations.
Between various states, there is a water dispute:
- Article 262 creates a process for resolving interstate water disputes. It contains two clauses:
- Parliament has the authority to adopt legislation to address any dispute or complaint about the use, distribution, and management of waters in any interstate river or river valley.
- Parliament may also designate that the Supreme Court or any other court shall not hear such a dispute or complaint.
- In accordance with the legislation’s provisions, the central government established the river boards act (1956) and the Inter-state water disputes act (1956).
- The river board act establishes river boards charged with the responsibility of regulating and developing the Interstate River and its valleys. This type of river board is formed at the request of the respective state governments.
- The interstate water dispute legislation empowers the federal government to establish an ad hoc tribunal to address disagreements between two or more states over the use of water in an interstate river. The tribunal’s decision would be decisive and definitive. Furthermore, the Act forbids the Supreme Court and any other court from adjudicating this case.
The 1956 Interstate Water Dispute Act:
- The 1956 Inter-State Water Dispute Act, which sets the legal framework for resolving such disputes, contains various flaws, including the absence of a time limit for resolving river water disputes.
- Delays occur as a result of the absence of a time limit for Tribunal adjudication, the absence of an upper age limit for the Chairman or Members, the stalling of work due to the appearance of any vacancy, and the absence of a time limit for publishing the Tribunal’s report.
- Since 1956, the River Boards Act 1956, meant to facilitate interstate collaboration in the development of water resources, has been a ‘dead letter.’
- The Central Water Commission (CWC) is responsible for the regulation of surface water, whilst the Central Ground Water Board of India is responsible for the regulation of groundwater (CGWB). Both organisations operate independently, and there is no forum for state governments to discuss water management.