Indus Water Treaty


    In News

    Recently, India has diverted excess waters under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) 1960 to irrigate its own land.


    • The move to harvest excess water comes against the backdrop of India working on a plan to divert the waters of Ujh, which is one of the main tributaries of the Ravi river that flows into Pakistan.
    • India is working on exercising its rights to stop excess water flowing to Pakistan under the IWT to irrigate its own lands.

    (Image Courtesy: TN)

    Indus Water Treaty

    • After nine years of negotiations, India and Pakistan signed the IWT, with the World Bank also being a signatory
    • It was signed in Karachi on 19th September 1960 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Ayub Khan.
    • It gives control over the waters of the three eastern rivers“, the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej with a mean annual flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF), to India, while control over the waters of the three western rivers“, the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum with a mean annual flow of 80 MAF, to Pakistan.
      • The water of the first three rivers and their tributaries that India gets is its absolute Right. If it construct irrigation projects on those waters and tap their potential, Pakistan can’t raise a question, which they try to do, but that’s illegal
      • With an eye on Pakistan, India is also expediting other strategically important hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir such as
        • 850 MW Ratle
        • 800 MW Bursar
        • 1,000 MW Pakal Dul
        • 624 MW Kiru
        • 540 MW Kwar
    • India has about 20 per cent of the total water carried by the Indus system while Pakistan has 80 per cent. 
    • The treaty allows India to use the western river waters for limited irrigation use and unlimited non-consumptive use for such applications as power generation, navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. 
    • It lays down detailed regulations for India in building projects over the western rivers. 
    • The preamble of the treaty recognises the rights and obligations of each country in the optimum use of water from the Indus system in a spirit of goodwill, friendship and cooperation. 
    • This has not reduced the Pakistani fears that India could potentially create floods or droughts in Pakistan, especially in times of war.
    • Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty.

    Untapped Waters

    • Of India’s three rivers of the Indus system, there are some tributaries whose water remains untapped because of geographical adversities and flows into Pakistan
    • It has a major river called Ujh, which has five tributaries
    • The Ujh multipurpose project is to have a 186 MW capacity for electricity generation and will also provide water to irrigate 16,743 hectares and 20 cusecs for drinking.
    • Ujh’s confluence is along with the Ravi river downstream of Madhopur, which is our last diversion structure, where we have a barrage. 
    • After that, the Ravi river enters and exits Pakistan’s territory 17 times. 
    • It crisscrosses like this, and at most of the places, it’s Ravi that is the line of division between the two countries. Hence, one cannot get an appropriate location to divert it

    (Image Courtesy: TN)

    Way Forward

    • The Indus Waters Treaty is considered one of the most successful water sharing endeavours in the world today.
    • However, there is a need to update certain technical specifications and expand the scope of the agreement to address climate change

    Source: LM