Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami has told the central government that the state is of the view that there is no need for setting up a Permanent Water Disputes Tribunal (PWDT) as each and every inter-state water dispute is unique and complex. “I have examined the matter in detail and once again reiterate the decision of the Government of Tamil Nadu that there is no need to constitute a Permanent Water Disputes Tribunal to adjudicate the Inter-State River Water Disputes amongst the states,” Palaniswami told Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari in a letter on Tuesday.
The text of the letter was released to the media on Wednesday in connection with the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017. Palaniswami said each and every inter-state water dispute is unique and complex and the river basins differ widely in the total availability, utilisation and nature of water use in them. According to Palaniswami, the current Act of 1956 does not speak about the tenure of appointment of a Chairman and two other members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from among persons who at the time of such nomination are judges of the Supreme Court or of a High Court.
However, under the proviso in clause (4), an upper age limit has been prescribed if the proposed legislation is enacted and comes into force. “In so far as the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal is concerned, the Members appointed are hearing the dispute right from the year 1991 and they have already crossed 70 years of age,” Palaniswami said. He said the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was constituted by the central government on the apex court’s orders and transfer of pending applications to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal under clause (4) of the draft Bill on its enactment, shall not be done without the leave of the Supreme Court.
Palaniswami said the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal will be in a better position in terms of continuity and institutional memory to decide on the issues before it. He also said the data provided by the state government need not be verified by the central government, as proposed in the amendment. “Further, the Government of Tamil Nadu conveys its decision that the functioning of the existing Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal should not be hampered on the pretext of transfer of the pending applications to the proposed constitution of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal,” Palaniswami added.