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What are the major Inter-State Water disputes in the country?


Inter-State water disputes have only increased in the recent times. As per the information shared by the government, there are 8 major Inter-State water disputes in the country.


With river water being an important source of irrigation in various states, Inter-State river water disputes have only increased. The Cauvery dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has once again reached the Supreme Court. But what are the major such disputes in the country?

Inter-State River water disputes

The Inter-State river water disputes are governed by the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956. If a State Government makes a request regarding any water dispute and the Central Government is of opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, then a Water   Disputes Tribunal is constituted for the adjudication of the water dispute.

This act was further amended in 2002 to include the major recommendations of ‘The Sarkaria Commission’. The amendments mandated a one year time frame to setup the water disputes tribunal and also a 3 year time frame to give a decision.

List of major Inter-State Water disputes

Below is the list of major Inter-State water disputes as per the information shared by the Government in the Lok Sabha.

S.NoName of TribunalStates concernedDate of constitutionPresent Status
1.Godavari Water Disputes TribunalMaharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh & OdishaApril, 1969Award given on July, 1980
2.Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -IMaharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,April, 1969Award given on May, 1976
3.Narmada Water Disputes TribunalRajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and MaharashtraOctober, 1969Award given on December, 1979
4.Ravi & Beas Water TribunalPunjab, Haryana and RajasthanApril, 1986Report and decision given in April, 1987. Clarification / explanation sought from the Tribunal by the party States. Also, a Presidential Reference in the matter is before Supreme Court and as such the matter is sub-judice.
5.Cauvery Water Disputes TribunalKerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and PuducheryJune, 1990Report and decision given on 5.2.2007. A Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by party States in Hon’ble Supreme Court, as such the matter is sub-judice.
6.Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal -IIKarnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and MaharashtraApril, 2004Report and decision given on 30.12. 2010. However, as per Supreme Court Order dated 16.9.2011, till further order, decision taken by the Tribunal on references filed by States and Central Government shall not be published in the official Gazette. As such, matter is sub-judice. Term of the Tribunal has been extended for a further period of two years w.e.f. 1st August, 2014 to address the terms of reference as contained in section 89 of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014. The term of KWDT-II has further extended for period of one year w.e.f. 1st August, 2016. The matter is under adjudication in the Tribunal. The Government of Telangana has filed a SLP 33623-26 of 2014 and WP(C) 545 of 2015 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter. The matter is sub-judice.
7.Vansadhara Water Disputes TribunalAndhra Pradesh &OdishaFebruary, 2010Report and decision not given by the Tribunal. State of Odisha has filed an SLP in Supreme Court against the appointment of one of the Members of the Tribunal. The SLP in the matter filed by the State of Odisha in the Supreme Court is pending. The matter is sub-judice. Besides, Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal in its Order dated 17.12.2013 has directed to constitute a 3-member Protem Supervisory Flow Management and Regulation Committee on River Vansadhara to implement its Order. State Govt. of Odisha has filed Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No.3392 of 2014 with regard to the Vansadhara Water Disputes Tribunal Judgement dated 17.12.2013. The matter is sub-judice.
8.Mahadayi Water Disputes TribunalGoa, Karnataka and MaharashtraNovember, 2010Report and Decision not given by the Tribunal.


Other Inter-State Water disputes

Apart from the above mentioned disputes, the following are the other Inter-State water disputes

It also must be noted that there are occasions where the states had resolved their disputes on water sharing or joint projects through mutual discussions and agreements with/without the direct intervention of the Central Government. As per information available in central water commission publication “Agreements on Inter-State Rivers of Legal Instruments on Rivers In India”, about 114 inter-State agreements have been reached so far.


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.


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