GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Discuss the history of
Indus Water Treaty and how it affects India and Pakistan.
Q. Discuss the history of Indus Water
Treaty and how it affects India and Pakistan. (12.5 Marks)
(General Studies Mains Paper II – International Relations : India and its
Model Answer :
The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is a water sharing arrangement, signed in
Karachi on September 19, 1960, by then Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru and
Pakistan's President General Ayub Khan.
History of Indus Water Treaty
The World Bank (the erstwhile international bank for reconstruction and
development) brokered the treaty and is also a party to it.
The Indus system of rivers comprises three western rivers which includes the
Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi.
The Treaty led to the setting up of an Indus Water Commission to adjudicate
any future dispute over the allocation of water.
The commission, which has survived two wars, is required to meet regularly to
discuss potential disputes and provide an ongoing machinery for consultation and
conflict resolution through inspection, exchange of data and visits.
What does the treaty meant for India and Pakistan ?
According to the treaty, India has unrestricted use of
the eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej), but only 20% use of the western
rivers. However, India is allowed water from these rivers for "domestic and
non-consumptive use, hydropower and agriculture, subject to certain limits".
India grossly under-utilises its entitlement under the 1960-treaty where it
can use all the waters of the Jhelum, Chenab and Indus.
Pakistan also received a one-time financial compensation for
the loss of water from the eastern rivers and to build a new canal system.
There is a provision for mediation and arbitration by a
neutral umpire in case of any disagreement. The IWT has, so far, been
implemented by both the countries faithfully. It has not gone for any
modification till date, even though Article-XII of the IWT allows for any kind
of modification when both parties agree.
Jammu and Kashmir too has not been able to harness the full
potential of the treaty. In 2007, the Union Water Ministry had estimated Jammu
and Kashmir can increase its Irrigated Cropped Area (ICA) by 4,25,000 acres.
Pakistan at a dead end
Official sources said the Indus commissioners will meet only in the absence
of terrorism. These commissioners meet about twice a year and have met every
year since the treaty was signed, even during the 1965, 1971 and Kargil wars.
- Treaty provides for three-stage grievance redress. Disputes first raised
at meetings (two a year). If unresolved, dispute is referred to neutral
expert World Bank appoints. If that too fails, sides can apply for
arbitration by the UN's court of arbitration
- If the first stage of dispute redressal is suspended, the other two
steps cannot kick in. This leads to a dead end for Pakistan
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