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In News: India has issued a notice to Pakistan seeking modification of the decades-old Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
More on Indus Water Treaty News:
- The government has invoked Article XII (3) of the treaty that allows modification of the provisions by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two Governments.
- However, it is not obligatory for Pakistan to allow for modifications.
Indus Water Treaty
- The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan to use the water available in the Indus River and its tributaries. It was mediated by World Bank.
- It was signed in Karachi in 1960 by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani president Ayub Khan.
- Under the treaty, the control over the waters of the three eastern rivers (Beas, Ravi and Sutlej) is given to India.
- The control over the waters of the three western rivers (Indus, Chenab and Jhelum) is given to Pakistan.
- The treaty allows India to use western river waters for limited irrigation use and unlimited non-consumptive use such as power generation, navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc.
Disputes in Indus Waters Treaty
- Pakistan has repeatedly raised objections against two hydroelectric power projects that India is constructing – one on the Kishanganga river, a tributary of Jhelum, and the other on the Chenab.
- Pakistan has asked that a Neutral Expert should be appointed to examine its technical objections to the Kishanganga and Ratle HEPs. It later proposed a Court of Arbitration.
- India requested for appointment of a Neutral Expert, arguing that Pakistan’s request for a Court of Arbitration violated the graded mechanism of dispute resolution in the Treaty.
- After the 2016 Uri Attacks, there were talks within India to walk out of the Indus Waters Treaty, which allots a significantly bigger share of the six river waters to Pakistan.
How Disputes are Addressed under the Treaty?
- Dispute redressal is provided under Article IX of the IWT. It’s a 3-level mechanism that makes it obligatory for India to inform Pakistan that it is planning to build a project on the Indus River system.
- Pakistan might oppose it and ask for more details. In case there is a question, that question has to be clarified between the two sides at the level of the Indus Commissioners.
- If it is not clarified, it becomes a difference that has to be handled by a Neutral Expert. It is at this stage that the World Bank enters the picture.
- In case Neutral Expert is unable to resolve the difference, then it becomes a dispute. The dispute then enters the Court of Arbitration.
Reasons for India’s Notice to Amend the Treaty
- Strategic tool: There has been a growing demand in India to use the Indus Waters Treaty as a strategic tool, considering that India has a natural advantage being the upper riparian state.
- Full utilization of rights: India has not fully utilized its rights over the waters of the three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) over which India has full control under the Treaty.
- It has also not adequately utilized the limited rights over the three western rivers (Indus, Chenab and Jhelum).
- India had established a high-level task force to exploit the full potential of the Indus Waters Treaty. The new notice is part of the efforts.
- Hydropower projects: By modifying the treaty, India aims to start several big and small hydroelectric projects that had either been stalled or were in the planning stages.
The Kishanganga Hydroelectric Power Project
- About: It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power project by the Government of India on the Neelum River (or Kishanganga), a tributary of the Jhelum River.
- Location: It is located near Bandipore in the Kashmir valley.
- Project details:
- The project includes a concrete-face rock-fill dam designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River through a tunnel to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin.
- Construction on the project began in 2007 and was expected to be complete in 2016.
- It was halted in 2011 due to a concern of Pakistan that the project will impact the flow of the Kishanganga River to downstream areas in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The Ratle Hydroelectric Power Project
- About: It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power project by the Government of India on the Chenab River.
- Location: It is located near the Drabshalla Village in the Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Project details: It includes a 133 m tall gravity dam and two power stations adjacent to one another.
- In June 2013, the then-Indian Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the dam.
- The Pakistani government in 2013 had objected to the construction of the dam, claiming that it was not in conformity with the Indus Water Treaty.
- In August 2017, the World Bank allowed India to construct the dam.
- Pakistan has approached the World Bank with fresh protests, but the Centre has now decided to go ahead with the construction.