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Indus Water Treaty: Treaty and Conflicts

The Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank, was signed by the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and  President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in September 19, 1960, to administers utilisation of water of river Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries. Treaty is to share the water of six rivers flowing in these countries. As per the treaty, three eastern rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, three western rivers Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by Pakistan. The Indus River originates from Tibet in China and flows from India, India is allowed to use 20% of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.

 

The Indus Waters Treaty is one of the most successful water-sharing endeavours in the world. The countries exchange data & co-operate in matters related to the treaty. A Permanent Indus Commission, with a commissioner appointed by each country, was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. It provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes arising over water sharing amicably. The countries exchange data & co-operate in matters related to the treaty.

 

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT):At A Glance

  • IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan which was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).
  • The treaty deals with sharing of water of Indus water system having six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries.
  • It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960.
  • As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan.
  • It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport.
  • Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty.
  • Under it Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing. Besides, treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.
  • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
  • It is most successful water treaty in world. Even, it has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990.

 

Thanks to the Indus Water Treaty India and Pakistan peacefully sharing the water of Indus and its tributaries for 56 years and are living examples of how water resources can be shared through legal framework and that too at a time when States within India are unable to find an amicable solution to sharing water from rivers that flow between them and Cauvery River water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is the burning example of it.

 

The Indus Water Treaty has protected water rights of both the countries. Pakistan has built Mangla and Tarbela dams and several storage facilities on Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers and India also has built various Dams and Barrages on Sutlej, Beas and Ravi Rivers. The Jhelum, Chenab and Indus Rivers all flow through Jammu and Kashmir, yet under the Indus Water Treaty state must seek permission from Indus water commissioners before any economical development. The treaty which was carried out in the best interest of both nations has, however, deprived the Jammu and Kashmir state to use its own water resources and thereby severely affected the developmental process of the state. Conforming to the treaty criteria, State cannot fully exploit the water potentialities of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers.

 

In response to recent terrorist strike in Uri, India sent a strong signal to Pakistan, indicating non-military options, as it decided to restart construction on Tulbul Water Navigation project on Indus River after almost three decades, suspend meetings of Permanent Indus Water Commission and launch construction of run-of-the-river hydel power plants on western rivers.  The government decided to set up an inter-ministerial task force to implement hydel power projects and putting water to agricultural use in Jammu & Kashmir.

 

The key decisions were taken at a high-level review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who asserted “blood and water cannot flow at the same time”. India stopped short of abrogating   the Indus Water Treaty but hardened its position by deciding to make full use of its legal rights.

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