Indus Water Treaty Issue | Pakistan - India Relation

History

The major disputes are about the Wullar barrage or the Tulbul Navigation Project on the Jhelum in Kashmir. The dispute goes back to 1984. 

India wanted to establish a barrage at the mouth of the Wular Lake on Jhelum River. That the project entailed the creation of a 439 ft long and 40 ft wide barra which would store 0.30 million acre-feet of water, which would make the river navigable during the Summer season. 

Indus Water Treaty of 1960

Pakistan had taken the matter to Indus Water Commission (since 1986) as it alleged that the Wullar barrage violated the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, and the creation of the barrage would be used by India as a geostrategic weapon to restrict water supplies to Pakistan. 

India uses the term Tulbul Navigation Project, while Pakistan uses the term Wullar barrage to refer to the project. Since 1986, there have been negotiations between the two sides to resolve the dispute, but it still persists.

Indus Water Treaty Before 1947

Let us turn our attention to the Indus Water Treaty. Before Partition, the water of the Indus River, the Indus system, was jointly used by India and Pakistan. 

After the Partition in 1947, the two sides concluded an inter-dominion accord where it was decided that on annual payments from Pakistan, India would release a sufficient amount of water to Pakistan. It was decided in the inter-dominion accord that the two sides in the future will negotiate a permanent solution, In 1951, the Former Chairman of Tennessee Valley Authority, David Lilienthal visited the region and recommended joint operation and development of Indus the then Chairman of World Bank, Eugene Black, basin. 

Based upon the idea propounded by Lilienthal, convinced India and Pakistan to negotiate a settlement for water sharing. The meetings began in 1954 and finally concluded in 1960 with the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed between Nehru and Ayub Khan. The Indus basin has three eastern flowing rivers (Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi) and three western flowing rivers (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab). 

As per the INT 1960, India got control over the eastern rivers, while got control of western rivers. India, however, as per the IWT, was allowed to use the water from Pakistan the western rivers for the purpose of consumption with restricted use of the river water for storage. On was not to build storage and irrigation systems on the western rivers, except for specific cases, India rivers. In the IWT, if there were to be a disagreement between India and Pakistan, there was a provision to seek mediation and arbitration. 

As per the Article XII of the IWT, a modification is permissible when both parties agree for the need of the same, To make sure that neither of the parties is violating any of the provisions of the IWT, the treaty provides for a Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) where there would be one commissioner appointed by India and one by Pakistan. Whenever a project is initiated by one party, it has to share the information with the other party. If there is ever a dispute, first there to be bilateral talks. If talks fail, the aggrieved party can seek third-party (a neutral party) intervention Jhelum is a west-flowing river, one of its tributaries in Kishanganga. The Kishanganga in Pakistan called the Neelum river. 

India authorized the National Hydropower Corporation to establish a dam name Gurez on the Kishanganga River. To generate electricity, the National Hydropower Corporation envisaged the creation of a 20 km long tunnel to divert water. The water through the tunnel could be diverted through the tunnel to generate 300+ MW electricity at the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant (KHEP) in Bonar Nallah. Pakistan objected to the KHEP project alleging that the diversion of the water will reduce the availability of water Pakistan requires for the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant and thereby also reduce the original share of river water due to Pakistan under the IWT by 15 percent. 

Thus, in 2010, Pakistan approached the International Court of Arbitration (ICA). The ICA gave a final decision in December 2013, As per the ICA, Pakistan will need at least 9 m/s water flow in the river which shall be maintained by India and India would be able to, after ensuring 9 m/s flow in the river, go ahead with the KHEP project.

Indus Water Treaty of 1960


Pakistan had also raised four design-related issues at the ICA, but out of the four, only one was settled, while the rest could not be settled at the bilateral level between the two. In June 2013, India initiated a new 850 hydropower station to be constructed as the Ratle plant on the Chenab River. 

Pakistan raised objection to the Ratle plant and took up the issue for arbitration by the court of arbitration at the World Bank. Pakistan, on 19 August 2013, requested the World Bank to constitute a court of arbitration. India, as per the IWT had to respond to the request on 19 October 2013. On 4 October 2013, India requests that a neutral expert be appointed. If a state requests a neutral expert be appointed, then such a request has to be accepted immediately. The World Bank, however, chose to sit on India's request. 19 October dest. On 19 October 2013, when the Pakistani request matured, the World Bank advocated both the setting up of ac up of a court of arbitration and appointment of a neutral expert. 

India objected to the proposal, observing that it would complicate the process, India threatened that it may not participate in the court of arbitration as it had requested for a neutral expert's appointment which had to be accepted immediately, but it lately, but it was not The World Bank exercised a pause to the two processes and urged the two states to find an alternative resolution mechanism. The matter was taken up at the level of the Permanent Indus commission. 

After the Uri attack happened in September 2016, India decided not to hold the PICmeeting with Pakistan till it stop funding terrorists. However, in March 2017, the suspension was lifted and the possibility of the agreement is awaiting in the future.

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