Tuesday, December 5, 2023

“Pak actions have forced”…India issues notice on Indus Water Treaty

India had, on January 25, issued a notice to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of September 1960 following Pakistani “intransigence” on its implementation, sources said today.

Key points: 

  • The notice was conveyed to the neighbouring nation through respective Commissioners for Indus Waters, as per provisions of the treaty. The action was necessitated as Pakistan has refused to discuss and resolve the issue of India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) for the last five years, despite India’s efforts, sources said.
  • The objective of the notice for modification is to provide Pakistan with an opportunity to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to rectify the material breach of IWT. This process would also update IWT to incorporate the lessons learned over the last 62 years.
  • “India has always been a steadfast supporter and a responsible partner in implementing IWT in letter and spirit. However, Pakistan’s actions have adversely impinged on the provisions of IWT and their implementation, and forced India to issue an appropriate notice for modification of IWT,” sources said.
  • Pakistan had in 2015 sought a neutral expert to examine its technical objections to India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs). However, it withdrew the next year unilaterally and proposed that a Court of Arbitration adjudicate its objections. Two simultaneous processes are in contravention of the graded mechanism of dispute settlement, sources said, adding that India then made a separate request for the matter to be referred to a neutral expert.
  • “The initiation of two simultaneous processes on the same questions and the potential of their inconsistent or contradictory outcomes creates an unprecedented and legally untenable situation, which risks endangering IWT itself. The World Bank acknowledged this itself in 2016, and took a decision to “pause” the initiation of two parallel processes and request India and Pakistan to seek an amicable way out,” sources said.
  • Government sources said that despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, Pakistan refused to discuss the issue during the five meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2022. At Pakistan’s continuing insistence, the World Bank has recently initiated actions on both the neutral expert and Court of Arbitration processes, they said.
  • India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory of the pact.
  • The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding the use of waters of several rivers. It gives control over the waters of the three “eastern rivers” — the Beas, Ravi, and Sutlej — to India, while control over the waters of the three “western rivers” — the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum — to Pakistan. India has about 20% of the total water carried by the Indus system, while Pakistan has 80%.
  • The treaty allows India to use the western river waters for limited irrigation use and unlimited non-consumptive use for such applications as power generation, navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. It lays down detailed regulations for India in building projects over the western rivers.
  • The Indus Waters Treaty is considered one of the most successful water-sharing endeavours in the world today.

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