Volume No. 4 Issue No.: 1 Page No.: 263-275 July-Sept 2009




Amardeep Singh* and A. K. Gosain

Central Soil and Materials Research Station, Ministry of Water Resources,
Government of India, Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016, (INDIA).


Received on : June 01, 2009




Human beings have delineated the land into countries and states. But the natural resources which have been bestowed upon the human beings have no regard, whatsoever, for the international boundaries. In no other natural resource is this fact more evident than in the case of water. Rivers know no boundaries, be they national or international. The aim of the present study is to suggest a mechanism for resolving conflicts pertaining to the transboundary watercourses by taking a case study of a 200 year old interstate river water dispute (Cauvery river dispute) in India. The legal doctrines pertaining to conflict resolution in transboundary watercourses have been reviewed for the purpose of their comparison and selection of the most suitable one for the Indian scenario. Based on the above review, principle of reasonable and equitable utilisation has been identified as the legal doctrine having widespread international acceptance as well as being the most suitable one for sharing waters of a multi-jurisdictional river basin in India. Furthermore, a set of quantifiable formulae have been devised for water allocations among the riparian states on the basis of the identified legal doctrine (Operationalisation of the legal doctrine). Water allocations have been done among the Cauvery riparian states using the equations developed. Finally, long term policy changes have been suggested for resolving interstate river water disputes in India in the light of Indian Constitutional provisions as well as the relevant parliamentary legislations.


Keywords : Transboundary watercourses, Legal doctrines, Water allocations, Interstate river water disputes.