The Lok Sabha passed the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 with a voice vote on Wednesday.
The Bill aims to streamline adjudication of inter-state river water disputes. It stipulates the constitution of a single tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge with different benches and strict timelines for adjudication. The benches will be wound up once a dispute is resolved. The tribunal will be mandated to deliver the final award in two years. Whenever it would pass an order, the verdict would get notified automatically.
The fresh legislation amends the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who piloted the Bill, said existing tribunals constituted for resolution of river water disputes had failed to do their job. Therefore, he said, a change in approach was necessary.
Responding to the points made by members, Shekhawat said the Bill would address longstanding disputes permanently. All states, according to him, had been consulted in 2013. Thereafter, the draft Bill was sent to a standing committee. Its recommendations were accommodated before the Bill was finalised, he added.
Congress member Manish Tewari said the proposed legislation did not provide for a consultation with states. He said the legislation was “absolutely flawed”. “…rather than cutting the time with regard to dispute resolution, what is proposed in the Amendment Bill is only going to increase the time of that dispute resolution by adding another layer to what is already a complex mechanism,” he added.