Mahanadi issue: Separate tribunal to be formed by Centre; Dharmendra Pradhan

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Sambalpur, Dec 20: Union Petroleum minister, Dharmendra Pradhan yesterday clarified the recent decision taken by the Centre to form a single tribunal for resolving all inter-state river water disputes as proposed by the state government. He said that a separate tribunal would be formed that would be there just to solve the Mahanadi issue between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. After attending a public meet, Pradhan told reporters that on demand by the State government a separate tribunal will be formed to solve the Mahanadi issue and the proposal of the state to form a single tribunal will be taken into consideration by the Centre at a later stage. This will act like a quasi-judicial body. On Sunday Water Resources Ministry secretary Shashi Shekhar said that the state government, besides the single Tribunal, 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. He had stated earlier that only one permanent tribunal would be formed having the retired Supreme Court judge as its chairperson and benches would be formed when needed although these benches will be winded up once a dispute gets sorted out. Shekhar had also stated that while water tribunals “took ages” to deliver final awards into disputes, the proposed Tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict within three years.

Notably, the previous month the government had filed a petition with the Centre proposing to set up a tribunal for sorting out the Mahanadi river water dispute and also immediately stop Chhattisgarh from constructing barrages over river Mahanadi. The State government in this regards had also filed the petition under section 3 of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 against the neighbouring government to settle the issue.

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