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Indus Waters Treaty: All you need to know

In a meeting to review the Indus Waters treaty, PM Narendra Modi has reportedly said that blood and water cannot flow together. Amid hightened tensions between India and Pakistan following the Uri attack, there has been renewed focus on the Indus Waters Treaty. Here's what you should know

BT Online | September 26, 2016 | Updated 17:57 IST
Indus Waters Treaty: All you need to know
Jhelum water entering Wular lake (Photo: Karan Dhar)

In a meeting to review the Indus Waters treaty, PM Narendra Modi has reportedly said that blood and water cannot flow together. Several people have called for its abrogation as it is seen as the easiest non-military response to Pakistan's aggression. However, scrapping the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty may be a long haul as India neither has the capacity to store that water nor it can build hydro-electric projects in a short span of time.

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Here's a complete background to the treaty:

  • The  Indus  system  of  rivers  comprises  three  Eastern  Rivers  (Ravi,  Beas  and Sutlej  and  their  tributaries)  and  three  Western  Rivers  (Indus,  Jhelum  and Chenab and their tributaries).  
  • The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 was signed on September 19, 1960 between India and Pakistan. It came into effect from April 1, 1960.   
  • Under the Treaty, the waters of Eastern Rivers are allocated to India. India is under obligation  to  let  flow  the  waters  of  the  Western  Rivers  except  for domestic use, non-consumptive use, agricultural use as specified, generation of hydro-electric power as specified.
  • India has been permitted to construct storage of water on Western Rivers upto 3.6 MAF for various purposes. No storage has been developed so far.
  • Under the treaty, India and Pakistan have each created a permanent post of Commissioner for Indus  Waters. They together constitute the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which is entrusted with the  implementation of the Treaty. The PIC is required to hold meetings and tours and submit report on its work to the two governments  every  year.  It has held 117 tours and 110 meetings so far.
  • Under this treaty, India is under obligation to supply information of its storage and hydroelectric projects as specified.
  • India communicates as a gesture of goodwill, flood data to Pakistan from 1st July to 10th October  every  year,  to enable them to undertake advance flood relief measures. The arrangement is reviewed every year.  
  • A neutral expert appointed by World Bank on Pakistan's request delivered Expert Determination on Baglihar Hydroelectric project in 2007. On request of Pakistan, to resolve the issues of Kishenganga HE project, a seven member Court of Arbitration was set up in 2010. The Court has given its final award on 20 December 2013.  
  • In 2002, under former chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's leadership, the state assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding the abrogation of the pact. "The state will lay emphasis on seeking compensation from the Centre on account of the losses caused to it due to this treaty," Mufti had said.
  • Under Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a party may invoke a fundamental change of circumstances as a ground for terminating or withdrawing from a treaty.


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