The Great Indian River Question Three Bills Threatening Federalism (Download PDF)

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The Great Indian River Question Three Bills Threatening Federalism

  • On the river front, Indian federalism is facing a serious challenge.
  • Three bills have been presented by the Centre in the Parliament
    • River Basin Management Bill, 2019
    • River Water Disputes Bill, 2019
    • Dam Safety Authority Bill, 2019

Overview

  • The River Basin Management Bill, 2019 proposes 13 river basin authorities for various river basins.
  • River Water Disputes Bill, 2019 proposes a dispute resolution committee.
  • Dam Safety Authority Bill, 2019 shifts the states՚ rights and authority over rivers to the center.
  • The question is- who should have a final say on river waters-
    • Centre
    • States
    • People՚s representatives or
    • Bureaucrats
  • The constitution puts water as a subject under the state list.
  • The right of Union comes only in cases of interstate rivers and disputes over it.
  • The Parliament passed two significant legislations in 1956 to exercise its
  • jurisdiction over interstate rivers-
    • River Boards Act
    • Interstate Water Disputes Act
  • River Boards Act- It enables the Centre to create boards to advise on the integrated development of inter-state basins, in consultation with the states concerned.
  • The River Boards were supposed to prevent conflicts by-
    • Preparing development schemes
    • Working out the costs to each state
  • However, no such water board has ever been created.
  • According to NCRWC (National Commission for Review of working of the Constitution) , the River boards Act has remained a dead letter.
  • The local regulation of water has become more pertinent due to a significant increase in groundwater extraction.
  • Cooperation among states is also very important since water needs to be addressed at the local and global level.
  • The Waterways Act, 2016 is an assertion of centralization.
  • A few rivers have already been given the national tag.
  • The difficulties in resolving interstate water conflicts have been used to push water into the Union list.
  • The NCRWC has recommended a comprehensive legislation after consultation with states to define constitution and jurisdiction of river boards to regulate, develop and control all interstate rivers.
  • Sarkaria commission recommended-
    • Once a state makes an application under Interstate River Water Disputes Act, the Centre must appoint a tribunal within a year.
    • The Centre should also have Suo motu power to appoint a tribunal if it is satisfied that the dispute exists.

- Published/Last Modified on: December 24, 2020

Govt. Schemes/Projects, Bills

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