Enumerate the provisions within the institutional architecture of India to resolve inter-state disputes. Assess their effectiveness.

The institutional architecture in India to settle inter-state disputes includes the interstate council, the NITI Aayog and the Supreme Court.

Inter-State Council:

  • It is a constitutional body established under article 263, thus well-placed to settle disputes.
  • It has solved over 100 disputes within timeframe of one year.
  • It lacks a dedicated cadre of officers.
  • But infrequent meetings have diluted the effectiveness of this body.
  • Further if its secretariat is shifted to Rajya Sabha instead of being under union home Ministry, it would be more effective.

Zonal Councils:

  • These statutory bodies set up under States Reorganization Act 1956, have helped settle economic and environmental disputes between states.
  • However they suffer from lacunae like lack of impetus from participating states and lack of constitutional status.

Niti Aayog:

  • All states have been given the representation in the governing council.
  • Though NITI Aayog has spurred cooperative and competitive federalism, it has not facilitated dispute settlement.

Supreme Court:

  • It has exclusive original jurisdiction over inter-state disputes.
  • Recently it has solved major disputes like Cauvery water sharing, Sutlej Yamuna Link canal dispute and Mullaperiyar issue.
  • But its effectiveness is limited by the pendency of a high order and continuing vacancies in the judiciary.

Way forward:

Apart from strengthening inter-state council, river basin management boards for inter-state river disputes settlement will help to promote cooperation among states.

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