World Bank declares pause to protect Indus Waters Treaty
The pause applies to the two concurrent processes initiated by India and Pakistan. While India vouched for appointing a Neutral Expert to resolve the dispute on Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects, Pakistan requested for a Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The World Bank Group (WBG) on 13 December 2016 halted the two concurrent processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty. The Bank initiated this move in order to protect the treaty.
A communication in this regard was sent by the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to finance ministers of both the countries. The Union Government welcomed this decision.
Why the World took this decision?
• India planned to construct Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants on Indus River System in Jammu Kashmir.
• Pakistan raised objections against these projects claiming that they would alter the river flows and affect the Pakistan adversely.
• To resolve the differences India and Pakistan asked the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert and a Court of Arbitration respectively.
• The Bank in its earlier communication to both the countries said that the necessary processes will be put in place by 12 December 2016.
• However, the Bank withdrew its earlier communication and announced that the concurrent process will make the treaty unworkable over time. Hence, these processes must be stopped.
About Indus Water Treaty
• It is a water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. It was brokered by the World Bank.
• The treaty was signed on 19 September 1960 by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and the President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
• As per the treaty, the control over the three western flowering rivers of the Indus River System – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were vested in Pakistan, while the control over the eastern flowing rivers – Ravi, Beas and Sutlej is in India’s hands.
• The treaty provides for dispute resolution mechanism at three levels viz., Questions, Differences and Disputes.
• The Questions will be resolved in the Permanent Indus Commission which will be represented by India and Pakistan.
• The unresolved Questions i.e. Differences will be resolved through the appointment of a neutral expert.
• The Disputes will be resolved through a Permanent Court of Arbitration.
• In September 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced stopping the meetings of Permanent Indus Commission against the backdrop of Pathankot and Uri terrorist attacks.