The River Boards Act, 1956

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The River Boards Act, 1956 (Act no. 49 of 1956) was assented by the President of India on 12th September, 1956. The concerned Act was enacted by Indian parliament with object to establish River Board for the purpose of provide regulation and development of Inter-State Rivers and Rivers valleys. The central Government is required to take under its control and authority, the regulation and development of Inter-State Rivers and Rivers valleys to the certain extend as provided under this Act. In India, 85 percent of the Indian territories lies within its major and medium inter-state rivers. There are fourteen major rivers in Indian territories, which are inter-state rivers. The Constitution of India also provides for this topic, under its Article 262 where Parliament of India is empowered to enact laws for adjudication of disputes or complaints related to the use, distribution, etc. of Waters of Inter-State River or River valley. As such the Parliament of India has enacted several laws on this topic including the present one.

The Act as provided under its object is dealing with establishment of River Board, similarly, the provisions contained under Chapter II of the Act specifies for the said establishment. Section 4 under this Chapter says that such Board can be established by the Central Government on the request of State Government or otherwise. Such River Board is to be establishment for advising the Governments upon the matters concerning the regulations and development of an Inter-State River or River valley. Different Boards may be established for different Inter-State Rivers or River Valleys Such Board as per the provisions of the Act should be a corporate and should also have similar features as that of registered company. Its jurisdiction should be extended to the limits of river or river valley and such area should be called the area of Operation of the Board. So far as, the constitution of the Board is concerned the section 5 provides that there should be a Chairman and other members as per the Central Government. And such persons should have special knowledge and experience in irrigation, electrical engineering, etc. Section 6 deals with terms and conditions of services of the members of the Board. Other provisions under this Chapter deal with vacancies, meetings, etc. of the board.

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The Chapter III of the Act provides for powers and functions of the Board under its Section 13. The section 13 provides that subject to the provision of the section 14 the Board is required to perform given functions, including advising Governments, preparing schemes and others. The functions of the Board are advisory and not adjudicatory. Section 16 further provides for general powers of the Board. The Section 17 speaks of payment of necessary sums by the Central Government to the Board in every financial year for the performance of functions by the Board under the Act. Moreover, constitution of the Fund by the Board which should include the moneys received from the Central Government and other receipts of the Board. Such fund can be utilized by the Board in relation to the performance of its functions. Further sections in the Chapter deal with budgets, annual reports, accounts, etc.

Last chapter i.e. Chapter IV of the Act provides for miscellaneous provisions in the Act. Provisions regarding Arbitration, in case of any dispute or difference which may arises amongst two or more Governments regarding any advice, measures, or otherwise. Section 23 deals with furnishing of returns, accounts, statistics, etc. regarding its funds or otherwise to the Central Government. The Board can delegate powers and functions to the Chairman or any other officers thereof as per section 24 of the Act considering the efficient running of the administrations of the Board. Such delegations should be subjected to the conditions and limitations. Section 27 of the Act makes provisions for dissolution of the Board. Such dissolution can be effected by the Central Government when the Board has performed its function under this Act. Another important provision is relating to power of the Central Government to make rules consistent with the provisions of the Act and also on the matters enlisted under that provision. Also as per the last section of the Act the Board is empowered to make regulations.

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 by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.