The Central Government has issued a notification on 12 March, 2018 constituting the Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal under the chairmanship of Honourable Supreme Court Judge, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.
- The other members of tribunals are; Justice Ravi Ranjan (Judge, Patna High Court as Member) and Mrs Justice Indermeet Kaur Kochhar, (Judge, Delhi High Court as Member).
- The Chairman and other members of the tribunal were nominated by the Chief Justice of India.
- According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, the Tribunal will have its headquarters at Delhi.
- The Tribunal has been constituted following orders of the Supreme Court dated 23rd January, 2018 in a suit filed by the Government of Odisha. The Government of Odisha had sought to refer the water dispute regarding the inter-state river Mahanadi and its river valley to a Tribunal for adjudication under the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
- Following the Supreme court order, the Union Cabinet on 20 February 2018, has approved the proposal for adjudication of dispute on Mahanadi River Waters.
- The Tribunal shall determine water sharing among Mahanadi basin States (Odisha and Chhattisgarh) on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, the present utilization of water resources in each State and the potential for future development.
Composition of Tribunal and provisions
- As per provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other Members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.
- Further, services of two Assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will be provided to advise the Tribunal in its proceedings.
- As per provisions of the ISRWD Act, 1956 the Tribunal is required to submit its report and decision within a period of 3 years which can be extended to a further period not exceeding 2 years due to unavoidable reasons.
- It is expected that with adjudication of dispute by the Tribunal, the long-pending dispute between States of Odisha and Chhattisgarh on Mahanadi river will come to a final settlement.
About the Dispute
- The Mahanadi river water sharing dispute started after Chhattisgarh started building dams across the river that flows through the two states.
- Odisha Government says the new projects disrupt the flow of water to the Hirakud Dam. Chhattisgarh says the barrages only collect rain water and don’t affect the flow of the river. According to the Chhattisgarh government, the Mahanadi water flow is 96% during monsoon and 4% otherwise, so any barrage would essentially store rain water.
- The Mahandi originates from a pool, 6 km from Farsiya village of Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh.
- The total length of the river from origin to its outfall into the Bay of Bengal is 851 km.
- The Seonath, the Hasdeo, the Mand and the Ib joins Mahanadi from left whereas the Ong, the Tel and the Jonk joins it from right.
- Six other small streams between the Mahanadi and the Rushikulya draining directly into the Chilka Lake also forms the part of the basin.
- The Mahanadi basin extends over states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha and comparatively smaller portions of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, draining an area of 1,41,589 Sq.km which is nearly 4.3% of the total geographical area of the country.
- The Mahanadi is one of the major rivers of the country and among the peninsular rivers, in water potential and flood producing capacity, it ranks second to the Godavari.