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Mahanadi Tribunal: TOR handed over to Chairman

Statesman News Service | Bhubaneswar |

The Central government on Tuesday handed over the terms of refrence of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal to Supreme Court Justice A M Khanwilkar, chairman of the Tribunal at Delhi on Tuesday.

It may be noted here that the ruling BJD government here had been crying foul and staged protests stalling the Assembly proceedings alleging that the BJP led central government was deliberately delaying the process of the Tribunal to help Chhattisgarh complete ongoing barrage construction upstream of Mahanadi.

The centre has turned blind to the water crisis in Odisha and with a eye of elections in Chhattisgarh it is delaying issuance of terms of reference to the Tribunal, alleged the BJD.

In fact the BJD has convened a mega convention on Mahanadi on 22 April. Tuesday’s move by the central government in handing over the TOR to the Tribunal blows the wind off the BJD sail. Mr U P Singh, secretary Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation handed over reference of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal under Section 5 (1) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act (ISRWD), 1956 to Hon’ble Justice A M Khanwilkar, Chairman of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal and Judge of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

On 19 November. 2018, the Odisha Government had submitted complaint under Section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 to the Central Government for seeking constitution of Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of water disputes in respect of Mahanadi river between the riparian states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

The Ministry constituted a Negotiation Committee which held two meetings, but Odisha did not participate in the meetings. Odisha also filed petition in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on 23 January, 2018 directed the central government to constitute a Tribunal for adjudication of disputes on river Mahanadi and also advised Odisha to present its plea before the Tribunal.

The Central Government constituted Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal on 12 March, 2018 with Justice A.M. Khanwilkar – Chairman, Justice Ravi Ranjan, Judge of the Patna High Court and Mrs. Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar, Judge of the Delhi High Court.

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

Hon’ble Justice was also briefed about the legal provisions for adjudication of water disputes. He also assured Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that Central Government is taking all necessary steps for early functioning of the Tribunal and sought his guidance on the road-map for resolving Mahanadi dispute.