The place of the tribunal in Inter-State water disputes

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Narendar Pani


South Asian Water Studies Journal SAWAS, South Asian Water Studies, Volume 2, Number 1, p.37–48 (2010)



disputes, India, institutions, rivers, Tribunals


The enthusiasm in official circles for Tribunals to settle inter-state river water disputes has not been matched by that of the states involved in the disputes. There is some doubt about whether the awards of the Tribunals dealing with the more difficult tasks will be accepted by the states. This throws up a rather fundamental question: What role, if any, can Tribunals play in resolving inter-state river water disputes in India? In order to answer this question, we first seek an appropriate concept of institutions that would help us understand Tribunals. Based on this concept, we would look at the abstract case for Tribunals. We would then go on to look at the issues that emerge in practice, before finally going on to argue that while the Tribunals have an essential role to play in addressing the technical and judicial aspects of inter-state river water disputes, there are other dimensions to these disputes that are equally important to address. Unfortunately, these fall well beyond the capabilities of even the best equipped Tribunal. Thus thee effectiveness of a Tribunal depends not just on what it does, but also on what is done to address factors beyond its control.


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