The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal headed by Justice J M Panchal (former Judge of the Supreme Court of India) has pronounced its verdict by submitting the Report in twelve volumes under section 5(2) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
The complex riparian dispute which has created unrest in north Karnataka and equally a nervousness in Goa, appears to have provided ad hoc solution rather than a permanent solution to the warring States.
The Tribunal has in total allocated 38.25 tmc of water of inter-state river Mahadayi, which consists of 24 tmc to Goa, 13.4 tmc to Karnataka and 1.33 tmc to Maharashtra.
Mohan Katarki, counsel for Karnataka who conducted cross-examination and argued the case, says the verdict has brought part success to the State of Karnataka.
The Tribunal has allocated 5.4 tmc to Karnataka for consumptive use which consists of allocation of 3.9 tmc for diversion to Malaprabha Reservoir for meeting the drinking water requirements for Hubballi Dharwad, etc. and 1.5 tmc towards utilisation within the Mahadayi Basin in Karnataka. Besides, the Tribunal has also allocated 8.02 tmc to Karnataka for use in the power production at Mahadayi Hydro-Electric Project.
The allocation of 5.4 tmc meets the pressing drinking water needs in Hubballi-Dharwad, etc.
The Tribunal, after accepting Karnataka’s case on the yield as 188.06 tmc annually in entire Mahadayi basin, should have considered allocation of more water to States. However, the tribunal has held (clause VI of final order) that equitable apportionment to divide the water fully is “neither necessary nor feasible at this stage”.
The tribunal has provided for review after 31.08.2048 (clause XIII). But, one wonders, why tribunal shied away from equitable apportionment and allocation of more water to all States. The net result of the conclusion if the tribunal is that 149.77 tmc of water will go to Arabian Sea as tribunal has allocated only 38.25 tmc in total out of total estimated water 188.02 tmc annually.
The State of Goa accepted the Award. The Union Government is likely to publish the Award under Sec 6(1) of the Act of 1956 to make it effective immediately as the Tribunal has recommended that it should be published “as early as possible”.
The Tribunal in its long report running into 2,700 pages has recommended for changes in the Act of 1956 and as well as in the functioning of Central Water Commission as it found many shortcomings in its report.