The flow of Indus Water Treaty (IWT)
In his recent statement, Nitin Gadkari, minister of road transport and highways of India has conveyed that, India has decided to stop the flow of its share of water to Pakistan from the rivers under Indus Water Treaty. This has come in response to the Pulwama attack. Pakistan which is already struggling with water stress will feel the heat of reduced water in the no time. Indus is the largest river of Pakistan.
The Indus water treaty divides the six rivers of the Indus river system equally between India( Ravi, Satluj, and Beas) and Pakistan(Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus).
It has managed to withstand the aftershocks of the war of 1965,1971, and 1999. In the international arena, the Indus water treaty is understood as the most successful water sharing arrangements in the world. As it has managed to stay in place despite the two neighbors having been engaged in four war since its inception.Though it has remained a major source of conflict due to its interpretation and implementation.
Origin of River Indus
The point of origin of Indus river, however, does not fall in the Indian territory. It originates near Lake Mansarovar in Tibetan Plateau. Therefore, it falls in Tibet which is a part of China now. In Tibet, it is called ’Sengge Tsangpo’or the ’Lion River’.
It enters India through Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir after which it flows into Pakistan.
In 1959 His Holiness Dalia Lama came to India. The Tibetan Government in Exile(GiE) operates from Dharamshala in India. On the recent developments between India and Pakistan, Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Secretary International Relations of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) spoke with himachalwire .in.He expressed his concerns about changing the course of rivers. He said, ”Everything should be done keeping in mind the climate change. The ecology of the river should not be disturbed. Politics and environment should be kept separate and the matter should be sought out with negotiation and dialogue.”
Background of IWT.
In the year 1960, the first Indian prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru and the Pakistani president Mohamed Ayub Khan signed a water-sharing agreement concerning the waters of the Indus river system. It was orchestrated by the World Bank and took nine long years of negotiations.
Under this treaty, the total of six rivers of the Indus river system were divided equally among the two countries which are India and Pakistan. India got Satluj, Beas and Ravi with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) and Jhelum, Indus and Chenab with the mean flow of 80 MAF were given to Pakistan.Pakistan’s rivers received more water flow than the Indian rivers.Therfore, the treaty permitted India to use the waters of western rivers for limited purposes.They were irrigation, power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses.Such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc.
This treaty also provided for the funding and building of dams, link canals, barrages and tube wells.
The major point of dispute in the treaty was that India could use the western rivers for consumption purposes but restrictions were placed on building of storage systems.It underlined that aside of certain specific cases, no storage or irrigation systems can be built by India on the western rivers. Though exceptions were crafted for unforeseen circumstances under which storage systems could be built.
This issue exceeds the sensitivity limits as the western rivers flow through Jammu and Kashmir. It is the place which is the subject of the tussle between both the countries since their independence.
Article 8 of the Indus water treaty mentions that commissioner from both Pakistan and India may undertake a general tour for inspection of the rivers for ascertaining the facts connected to various development and construction issues on the rivers on both the sides. For the reason, 118 tours from both sides have been undertaken since the inception of the treaty.
How was IWT conceived ?
In the year 1958 David Lilienthal , former chairman of Tennessee Valley Authority and of the U.S Atomic Energy Commission visited India. His came to write a series of articles for the Collier’s magazine. Lilienthal had an ardent interest in the Asian subcontinent.During his stay he observed that tensions between India and Pakistan were intense.
In his article he mentioned that India and Pakistan were almost on the verge of war over Kashmir. The possibility of negotiations very meek. He suggested that , a way to reduce animosity would be to focus on other important issues where cooperation was possible.
Accordingly, he proposed that India and Pakistan should work out a joint program to operate the Indus Basin river system.It was the common point of interest of both the countries.As both the nations were dependent for irrigation water from it .
In his article, he also suggested that the World Bank might use its good offices to bring the parties to an agreement.
Lilienthal’s idea was well received by officials at the World Bank and subsequently, by the Indian and Pakistani governments as well. Though it took nine long years of negotiations to fall in place.