The Central government is in favour of a single tribunal for speedy settlement of inter-state water disputes, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Arjun Ram Meghwal said here on Monday.The first conference of five eastern states - Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh - was held here on Monday with the objective to resolve the water disputes among these states."Instead of having state-wise multiple tribunals, the Centre is proposing for a single tribunal so that inter-state water disputes can be settled at the earliest. The decision of the single tribunal should also be mandatory," said Meghwal.According to him, water disputes between the five states were pending for a long time and the development of irrigation projects was not progressing on the expected lines."We had asked the respective states to submit their agenda and subsequently, we have examined their proposals and prepared a detailed note on that. We have discussed all the issues in detail."He said the Supreme Court has clearly said water is part of "common pool resources" and is considered a national asset.
In fact, the Central government introduced the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha in March 2017 and it proposes a Single Standing Tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of the existing multiple tribunals, which shall consist of one Chairperson, one Vice Chairperson and not more than six other members.Meghwal focused on the necessity to rejuvenate irrigation in this region, highlighting the requirement of upgrading the irrigation facility in every state to achieve greater production of food crops.He also pointed out that the meeting is going to bridge the gap between the states so far as water sharing issues are concerned.According to officials, the conference will facilitate in developing the ultimate irrigation potential of eastern India from the present 22 per cent by ensuring speedy development of water resources projects.Bihar raised the issues of the inter-linking of rivers, siltation in the Ganga, flood and drainage problems while Jharkhand moved the issues related to the inter-state links and revision of the Mayurakshi-Siddheswari-Noonbeel agreement.West Bengal spoke about the non-availability of Central funds under fund management, anti-erosion work on the banks of the Ganga and Bhagirathi rivers and Chhattisgarh raised various projects in the Mahanadi and Godavari basins. Odisha raised the issues of inter-state links and various other projects in the Mahanadi and Subarnarekha basins.