Understanding the Indus Water Treaty
- A 10-member delegation from India will visit Pakistan to attend the 117th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission.
- The Indian Commissioner of Indus Waters will lead the delegation visiting Pakistan.
Pakistan’s possible objections
- A possible objection to 3 hydro-power projects:
- 1000 Megawatt (MW) Pakal Dul project,
- 48 MW Lower Kalnai project,
- 624 MW Kiru project.
The Indus Waters Treaty
- The Inter-dominion accord was adopted in1948.
- India to supply water to Pakistan in exchange for an annual payment.
- It is a Water-Distribution Treaty signed in 1960 brokered by the World Bank.
- India has control over water flowing in the eastern rivers - Beas, Ravi and Sutlej.
- Pakistan has control over the western rivers - Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
- The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year.
- Both sides are required to share details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used.
- It sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers.
Some Key provisions
- It prescribed how water from the six rivers of the Indus River System would be shared between India and Pakistan.
- 3 western rivers - Indus, Chenab and Jhelum to Pakistan, 3 Eastern rivers - Ravi, Beas and Sutlej to India.
- 80% of the share of water or about 135 Million Acre Feet (MAF) went to Pakistan, & the rest 33 MAF or 20% of water for India.
- Both sides to establish a Permanent Indus Commission constituted by permanent commissioners.
- The functions of the commission include:
- serve as a forum for exchange of information on rivers,
- For continued cooperation,
- A first stop for resolution of conflicts.
- Annexure C allows India certain agricultural uses over the waters of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus.
- Annexure D allows India to build ‘run of the river’ hydropower projects(projects not requiring live storage of water).
- Treaty also allows Pakistan to raise objections over such projects being built by India.
- India is allowed to have a minimum storage level on the western rivers(can store up to 3.75 MAF of water for conservation and flood storage purposes).
- The IWT provides a 3 step dispute resolution mechanism:
- For unresolved questions and technical differences, either side can approach the World Bank.
- One of the longest objections from Pakistan’s side is regarding the Kishanganga Hydro-Electric Project (KHEP).
- KHEP: diverting water for a 330 MW hydropower plant in Kashmir’s Bandipora.
- Pakistan had raised objections regarding the height of the dam.
- India agreed to alter the design by lowering its height from 97 meters to 37 meters.
- 2010: Pakistan took the matter to the International Court of Arbitration.
- 2013: Court gave India a green signal for the project.
- Pakistan had objected to the Salal dam project in 1970 over design concerns.
- followed by the 900 MW Baglihar Hydropower project.
IWT and Political and Border conflicts
- IWT has been brought up a couple of times during geo-political tension between India and Pakistan.
- After Uri attack: PM states Blood and water cannot flow simultaneously.
- Permanent Indus Commission talks were suspended for that year by the Indian side.
- Pulwama 2019: India for the first time threatened to cut off water supply to Pakistan from the Indus River System.
- Though the IWT and geopolitical scenario are well connected, India never violated the treaty inspite of Pakistan's aggression at borders and their continuous activities to destabilize the region.