India, Pakistan to hold talks on hydropower projects under Indus Waters Treaty
The Indus system of rivers comprises three western rivers — the Indus, the Jhelum and Chenab — and three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi.
India and Pakistan will hold talks on two hydropower projects, namely Kishenganga and Ratle, under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on 31 July 2017.
Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh is leading the Indian delegation during the talks. The delegation will include officials from ministries of external affairs and water resources.
World Bank Vice President for South Asia region Annette Dixon - in a letter to in a letter to the Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna - has welcomed the participation of both the countries in the dialogue. She also assured neutrality and impartiality of the international body in helping both the nations to find an amicable way forward.
The meet at Washington is being held as part of efforts by the World Bank to resolve the issues raised by Pakistan over India’s hydroelectricity projects.
The two countries last held talks over the two projects in March 2017 during the meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Pakistan.
Pakistan had approached the World Bank in 2016, raising concerns over the designs of the two projects located in Jammu and Kashmir.
1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. The treaty was brokered by the World Bank (the then International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).
The treaty was signed in Karachi on 19 September 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
According to the agreement of September 1960, India was given the control over three "eastern" rivers namely the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej, while control over the three "western" rivers, namely the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan.
However, India from where the three rivers of Pakistan flow at first, was given the right to use them for the purpose of irrigation, power generation and transport while laying down precise regulations for Indian building projects along the way.
As per the provisions of the treaty, India can use only 20% of the total water carried by the Indus River.
The treaty was a result of Pakistani fear that, since the Source Rivers of the Indus basin were in India, it could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan, especially at times of war.
Why has the Treaty been in news?
The two nations never saw any water wars as most of the disagreements and disputes were settled via legal procedures that too within the framework of the treaty. But the treaty, which is considered as one of the most successful water sharing endeavours in the world today, has been in news since past one year.
It came in news in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech after Uri attack said it's time to review the IWT. The review was proposed after a terrorist ambush attack on an army garrison in Uri in Kashmir, in which about 19 soldiers were killed. Modi said, “Blood and water cannot flow together.”
Modi in his speech said that the country is planning to exploit India’s share of the Indus water for the purpose of irrigation and generation of electricity by the creation of hydroelectric power.
Following this announcement, Pakistan approached the World Bank with an appeal that India’s new plans would lessen its share under the IWT.
Reports suggest that the official dialogue between the two nations, who have fought four wars since 1947, has been at a standstill since 2013, despite several attempts to restart it. These attempts failed due to Pakistan’s support for terrorist activities against India.
(NOTE: The story is based on news published in several leading media houses)