After the rift of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over Cauvery, now Chhattisgarh and Odisha over Mahanadi has hit the headlines.
Mahanadi which is a major river in the East Central India, flows through the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The 851 kilometres long river with 1.41 lakh sq.km basin is causing worry to Odisha and giving geographical advantage to Chhattisgarh, just like the case of Karnataka over Tamil Nadu. The concerns of Odisha being Chhattisgarh has been constructing dams and weirs on the upstream of the river which is alleged to be done without the consent of the Odisha government, those dams are affecting the flow of river downstream and affect the supply of drinking water and also causing impact on irrigation facilities adversely impacting farmers. And also those dams and other projects are impacting the flow of water in Hirakud reservoir, a multipurpose river valley project, which is lifeline for many in state.
On the other hand, Chhattisgarh argues that the before construction of Hirakud Dam in 1953, the river was infamous as ‘sorrow of Odisha” as it used to cause massive floods and now the deluge is not as frequent and devastating as before. And presently they have been using only 9,000 MCM of the waters for its own economic needs and the projects which constructed are primarily aimed to provide water for non-consumptive industrial use.
Odisha now demands that all the seven barrages within the master plan of Chhattisgarh to be treated as integrated but not stand alone projects.
Since July 2016, when Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik raised this issue at the Inter State Council meeting in New Delhi, this has become a major dispute.
Water which is a state subject and Centre is allowed to be involved only in case of inter-state dispute. Under Article 262(1) of the Constitution of India, Parliament may by law, provide adjudication on any dispute or complaint with respect to use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-state river or river valley. However, has we had seen in recent cases, Centre the state has been very successful in adjudicating inter- state water disputes.
On a suit initiated by Odisha, which had moved to the Supreme Court seeking grant of injunction to restrain Chhattisgarh from continuing with the construction and operation of the six on going industrial barrages and also to restrain Chhattisgarh from using water in far excess of its equitable share.
Odisha had approached the Court as to refer the matter to Water Dispute Tribunal as it cannot be forced to be negotiated with Chhattisgarh. So to put an end to this dispute, Supreme Court has directed the Centre on 28th January, as per the Section 4(1) of Inter- State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, to constitute a tribunal for its adjudication within a month.
The Act mandates the nomination of the Chairman and members of the tribunal by the Chief Justice of India, among the judges of the Supreme Court and High Court.
The Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal will be an eighth tribunal to be constituted for resolution of inter-state water disputes the others being Krishna (1), Godavari, Ravi-Beas, Cauvery, Krishna (2), Vansadhara and Mahadayi.