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Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan: Present status of development in India

Under the Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of three rivers, namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beas (Eastern Rivers) were allocated to India for exclusive use. The waters of Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab (Western Rivers) were allocated to Pakistan.

Feb 23, 2019 10:22 IST
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Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari on February 21, 2019 announced the Government’s decision to stop the flow of river water to Pakistan and divert water from Eastern Rivers to Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab.

The decision came as a response to the devastating terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu & Kashmir that killed over 44 Indian paramilitary police officers.

Indus Basin System

The Indus System comprises of rivers - Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. The river basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of three rivers, namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beas (Eastern Rivers) were allocated to India for exclusive use. The waters of Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab (Western Rivers) were allocated to Pakistan.

However, India was given the right to use waters of Western Rivers only for specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use. India also has the right to generate hydroelectricity through Run of the River (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers, subject to specific criteria for design and operation.

Ongoing projects under the Indus Waters Treaty

India constructed Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi to utilise the waters of the Eastern Rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use.

These dams along with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project has helped India utilise nearly 95 percent of waters of Eastern Rivers. However, about 2 million acre feet (MAF) of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan.

To stop the flow of these waters, following projects are being undertaken:

Resumption of Construction of Shahpurkandi project

The Shahpurkandi Project will help in utilising the waters coming out from powerhouse of Thein dam to irrigate 37000 hectares of land in Jammu & Kasmir and Punjab and generate 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016; however, following a dispute between J&K and Punjab, the work on the project had been suspended since 2014.

The project was resumed after agreement between the states on September 8, 2018.

The cost of the project is Rs 2715.70 Crore. The Central Government will provide assistance of Rs 485.38 crore towards balance cost of works of irrigated component of the project.

Construction of Ujh multipurpose project

The Ujh multipurpose project will create storage of about 781 million cubic meter of water on river Ujh, a tributary of Ravi.

It will be utilised for irrigation and power generation in India and will provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 ha in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba district of J&K.

The project will be completed at a total cost of Rs 5850 crore as per the estimates of July 2017.

This project is a National Project and the Central Assistance of Rs. 4892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration.

The project will be implemented in 6 years.

2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh

This project will tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam.

It involves construction of a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a tunnel link to Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 Million acre-foot (MAF) of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting it to Beas basin for benefits of other co-basin states.

Note

The all three projects are declared as the National projects and will help India to utilise its entire share of waters given under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

Indus Waters Treaty

Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after over 9 years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory.

The treaty was signed in Karachi on 19 September 1960 by then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.

The Treaty describes the methods for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding use of the rivers.

It also puts up different procedures to handle issues such as- “questions” to be handled by the Commission; “differences” to be resolved by a Neutral Expert and “disputes” to be referred to seven-member tribunal “Court of Arbitration.”  

Permanent Indus Commission, which is responsible for cooperation and information exchange between both the countries, has a commissioner from each country.

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