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Odisha MP opposes bill to set up single tribunal for river water disputes

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New Delhi: Lok Sabha MP Bhartruhari Mahtab today opposed a bill to set up a single tribunal for inter-state river water disputes.

Joining the opposition voice in the lower House of Parliament, the parliamentarian objected the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 bill introduced by Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Mahtab came out in support of Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the MP from Baharampur Lok Sabha Constituency in West Bengal, who opposed the introduction of the legislation terming water as a state subject. The BJD MP from Cuttack said that the Centre needs to consult the states before preparing the bill draft.

“As water is a state subject, the respective stakeholders, which are the state governments, need to be consulted before preparation of the bill,” Mahtab said in Lok Sabha.

He made it clear that his objection to the bill is justified and it should come up with correction.

“I am not questioning the intent of the bill. Yes, there are many tribunals, which are not actually functioning as per our liking and a lot of time are being wasted to give a decision. But, the implementation of that decision is another aspect when the bill would be discussed in the House later on, we may discuss the merits of this bill.” he said.

He expressed his displeasure over Centre’s attitude for not consulting the state governments before move to set up a single tribunal to settle the inter-state river water disputes.

“The question here is, whether state governments have been consulted when you are going to form a specific and single tribunal to deal with all river water disputes. When that is not being done because that is not explained in this bill. It is just a ditto what was being placed in 2017 again that bill without any correction has come again. Therefore, I oppose the introduction of this bill,” Mahtab said in the Parliament.

Notably, the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill proposes to set up a tribunal to resolve water disputes in a time-bound manner. It provides for dissolution of existing tribunals and the water disputes pending adjudication before such existing tribunals will be transferred to the new tribunal. The single tribunal can have different benches and the decision on a dispute will be made in two years.