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Tags Current Affairs

Indus Water Treaty

Date: 17 October 2019 Tags: India & World

Issue

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised the farmers of Haryana that the river water which belongs to India under Indus Water Treaty, but is flowing to Pakistan would soon get diverted to the fields of Haryana and Rajasthan for the benefit of agriculture in the state.

 

Background

India shares its water with Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty. For many decades, India has allowed its share of water also to go to Pakistan without full utilisation.

 

Details

  • indus-river.jpgIndus Waters Treaty was signed on September 19, 1960, between India and Pakistan and brokered by the World Bank.

  • The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system.

  • The Indus River system has been used for irrigation since time immemorial. During the period of British rule in India, large canal systems were constructed, and old canal systems and inundation channels were revived and modernized.

  •  After partition, the water system was bifurcated, with the headworks in India and the canals running through Pakistan. This created tensions on both side.

  • The treaty gave the waters of the western rivers, the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab to Pakistan and those of the eastern rivers, the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej to India. It also provided for the funding and building of dams, link canals, barrages, and tube wells.

  • Currently India has built the Kishanganga dam in Kashmir and continued work on the Ratle hydroelectric power station on the Chenab River despite Pakistan’s objections.

Current status

  • Currently India has been under utilising its share of river water and is allowing them to pass to Pakistan. India plans to develop various other projects like Shahpurkandi to store and use its water share.

  • Water has been extensively used as a strategic tool to put pressure on Pakistan, with India threatening to suspend treaty is Pakistan does not mend its way.

  • Pakistan’s economy is heavily agriculture based and is fully dependent on irrigation from rivers. Stopping river water flow will put additional pressure on Pakistani government to provide drinking water as well as irrigation water for its citizens.

Indus Water Treaty

Date: 20 September 2020 Tags: India & World

Issue

September 19 marks the 60th anniversary of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan, a treaty that is cited as an example of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence that exist despite the troubled relationship.

 

Background

The World Bank, which, as the third party, played a pivotal role in crafting the IWT, continues to take particular pride that the treaty functions.

 

Details

  • The role of India, as a responsible upper riparian abiding by the provisions of the treaty, has been remarkable but the country, of late, is under pressure to rethink the extent to which it can remain committed to the provisions.

  • The sharing formula devised after prolonged negotiations sliced the Indus system into two halves. The three ‘western rivers’ (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) went to Pakistan and the three ‘eastern rivers’ (Sutlej, Ravi, and Beas) were portioned to India.

  • Equitable it may have seemed, but the fact remained that India conceded 80.52 percent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan. It also gave Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan to help build replacement canals from the western rivers.

  • India conceded its upper riparian position on the western rivers for the complete rights on the eastern rivers. Water was critical for India’s development plans.

  • It was vital, therefore, to get the waters of the ‘eastern rivers’ for the proposed Rajasthan canal and the Bhakra Dam without which both Punjab and Rajasthan would be left dry, severely hampering India’s food production.

  • Being a lower riparian state, Pakistan’s scepticism of India allows it to increasingly politicise the issue. It is not surprising that it maintains high troop levels and alertness around the canals on the eastern front, fearing that India will try to take control of the western rivers.

  • Due to its strategic location and importance, the Indus basin continues to receive considerable international attention. 

 India’s position

  • Every now and then, there is a clamour in India for abrogating the IWT as a response to Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism and intransigence.

  • Any attempt towards this would require a number of politico-diplomatic and hydrological factors to be determined as also a political consensus.

  • That the treaty has remained “uninterrupted” is because India respects its signatory and values trans-boundary rivers as an important connector in the region in terms of both diplomacy and economic prosperity. 

  • With abrogation an option that India is hesitant to take, there is a growing debate to modify the existing IWT.

  • While the treaty may have served some purpose at the time it was signed, now with a new set of hydrological realities, advanced engineering methods in dam construction and de-siltation, there is an urgent need to look at it afresh.

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