Expiry of tribunal tenure might push Mahanadi water dispute into uncertainty

Bhubaneswar: With the tenure of Mahanadi water dispute tribunal (MWDT) coming to an end on March 11, the people of Odisha are apprehensive that the decade-old crisis of sharing Mahanadi river water with neighbouring Chhattisgarh could face doom.

A field visit and the subsequent hearing, scheduled respectively on March 15 and March 25, have been cancelled following the expiry of tenure. Previously, the tenure of the MWDT was extended by two years in 2021. However, it is uncertain whether the tenure would be further extended or not.

It is pertinent to mention, the MWDT was formed on March 12, 2018, with the purpose to resolve the prevalent water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The MWDT has so far conducted 35 hearings as of February 13.

During the last hearing in February, both parties appealed for an extension of the tribunal’s tenure, which is under consideration of the Union Law Ministry.

At least four tribunals were constituted in the past days to resolve water disputes involving different states of the country. The Central government has put up a proposal for a unitary tribunal.

Disputes over sharing of Mahanadi water started in 2016 when Odisha objected to Chhattisgarh constructing several dams and barrages. Odisha government then alleged that the constructions would substantially reduce the water flow downstream.

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