Indus Water Treaty: Worry for India? 1


  1. Indus river (Sindhu) length= 3100km

  2. Ganga river length= 2525km
  3. Brahmaputra river length= 2800km

Indus river is one of the longest river in Asia. Although Yangtze river is the longest river which flows in China and 21st longest river in the world. Indus river starts from China (near kailash mansarover) and enters India in ladakh and then enters PoK (Gilgit-Balochistan region) and then flows into pakistan and finally drains into Arabian sea. Indus has 5 main tributaries:-
  1. Jhelum

  2. Chenab
  3. Ravi
  4. Beas
  5. Satluj

Other minor tributaries are- Gilgit, Kabul, Gomal. It is one of the most important river for Pakistan since it is used for agriculture and hydro-electric project. Without Indus river, Pakistan would have been a desert. Pakistan after the independence was concerned about India building large dams to cut the supply flowing to Pakistan. Pakistan also feared India could divert rivers in the time of war. When this dispute became the major attraction of the world then it was brokered by the World Bank. World Bank took 9 year to negotiate this treaty was signed on 19th September 1960 between PM Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ayub Khan. Although till 1958, Pakistan refused to sign the treaty. Details of the Treaty:-
  1. According to the treaty, the water of 3 top western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) were allocated to Pakistan and Ravi, Satluj and Beas were allocated for exclusive use by India before they enter Pakistan. However, a transition period of 10 years was permitted in which India was bound to supply water to Pakistan from these rivers until Pakistan was able to build the canal system for utilisation of water.
  2. Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to be used by India for only consumption and not for constructing dams etc.
  3. Further, Pakistan also received one time financial compensation for the loss of waters from eastern rivers.
  4. Permanent Indus commissioner, consisting of commissioner from both the sides.
  5. Western rivers can be used for only consumption purpose and not for storage and irrigation.
Flaws in the treaty:-
  1. Treaty does not consider the effect of climate change on water availability, sedimentation. Eg- Treaty on Ganga between India and Bangladesh.
  2. Treaty does not address the issue of quality or pollution of water from industrial or agricultural run-off, deforestation etc.
  3. There are no restrictions on how many dams countries can build.
Diplomacy errors:- There are few experts who says that there has been diplomacy errors by India as:-
  1. Acceptance of burmese sovereignty over the kabaw valley in 1953.
  2. Surrender of british-inherited extra-territorial rights in tibet in 1954.
  3. Giving back of strategic haji pir pass to Pakistan after 1965 war.
  4. Similarly return of territorial gains after the 1971 war.
  5. Loss of Indus water treaty is that India just got 19.48% of aggregate water of 6 rivers and after having upstream position and it is believed that upstream country has benefit.
  • It is generally seen that the country which is occupying upstream position dominates the flow of the water of river.
  • Like for example Brahmaputra which originates in China and flow into India. China since last one decade has build so many dams to which India never objected. Although, India get one-third of the total water from Brahmaputra.
  • Similarly, there are two rivers named kolorado and tizuana which flows from America (upstream) to Mexico (downstream) and America only provides 10% water to Mexico.
  • Surprisingly, India just take 19.48% of aggregate water of the 6 rivers and that too India occupies upstream position.
  • This shows India’s generosity towards and therefore, most of the experts think that it is India’s diplomacy error.
  • In 2011, US Senate foreign relations committee called Indus water as “The World’s most successful water treaty” for having withstood four wars between India and Pakistan.
  • Therefore, India should think strategically and tackle the Pakistan using the rivers if any war happens in future.

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