Understand the Indus Water Treaty
June 7, 2019
- ‘Indus water treaty’ is one of the most successful water treaties in the world. According to Indus water treaty India has 20% and Pakistan has 80% right on waters of Indus river basin.
- Now you will question why India has low share in Indus water treaty?
Most of the rivers of Pakistan originate from Indian Territory. 90% of their population lives in the Indus river basin, whereas less than 4% population of India lives in Indus river basin. Thus Pakistan has more water share of Indus treaty. India doesn't consume all 20% share of Indus water treaty. Thus Pakistan receives 87% share of Indus water treaty.
Now, Pakistan is a water scarce country with 30 days of water storage capacity, whereas one needs to have 120 days of water storage capacity to avoid water scarcity. India has 180 days of water shortage capacity. Pakistan will be one of the most water stressed country in 2040.
- What are the reason for water scarcity in Pakistan?
Pakistan didn't build enough dams to store water in 70 years of its past. Only 2 major dams Mangla and Tarbela , 300 smaller dams were built in Pakistan. In contrast India built 5000 small to major dams.
- Should India withdraw Indus water treaty?
Short answer. Right now~ NO, in future~ YES (MUST).
It will not affect Pakistan even if India withdraws the IWT today. But it will definitely affect Pakistan if India builds infrastructure to store water or divert river flow. For that India needs time of a few decades. India should withdraw Indus water treaty after building necessary infrastructure but right now India shouldn't withdraw Indus water treaty but should focus on building infrastructure.
According to the agreement, control over the water flowing in three "eastern" rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) — was given to India, while control over the water flowing in three "western" rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF — was given to Pakistan. As you can see rivers with large water flow are given to Pakistan. Indus river gets much of her water from Pakistan occupied Kashmir region. India cannot build dam on Indus river in Indian Kashmir due to geographical reasons. But India has strategic advantage over other rivers of Indus basin like Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. You can’t stop river flow permanently unless you divert river flow. All India needs right now is to fully use 20% share of Indus water treaty.
- How will it affect Pakistan?
We can create floods or drought in Pakistan, thus forcing Pakistan at her knees
India is undertaking 2 projects to ensure India utilizes its full share from eastern rivers, (a) Shahpurkandi dam project on Ravi River (b) Sutlej-Beas link in Punjab and the Ujh Dam project on Ujh River in Jammu and Kashmir. This water will be given to Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan and Delhi along with northern hill states. After successful project of Salma Dam( India Afghanistan friendship dam) India is planning to build second dam in Afghanistan on river Kabul which directly flows in Pakistan. Thus India will be able to isolate Pakistan not only from India but also from Afghanistan.
India can partially violate few clauses of the IWT and negotiate with Pakistan on terror. e.g. releasing only limited water especially during summers and rest consumer internally or expedite the river linking projects in northern Indian regions. This may raise few eyebrows of International community but they all understand that this is the most workable option to deal with terror without fighting a war.
Once India utilizes 20% share, Pakistan will get affected as already water stressed country. Since Pakistan is struggling economically, unable to construct dams it will add more problems to Pakistan.
India doesn't need to worry about China blocking Brahmaputra River in response. You need to understand Brahmaputra River not only flows in north east India but also in Bangladesh. Blocking and diverting of Brahmaputra River by china will create anger in Bangladesh also. In fact Bangladesh is more dependent on Brahmaputra River than India. China will not take risk to lose its investment in Bangladesh, naval access to Bangladesh. Acts like diverting Brahmaputra may force Bangladesh against china and align with India.
Water plays an important role in the survival of the human civilization and International Law and Environmental Law are affected by this by diversion of water of rivers an environmental catastrophe as well as an International Humanitarian Crisis may arise therefore it is important that the work being done at Center for Environment like the Environmental Law Center at Lloyd Law College and Conferences like the one conducted on International Humanitarian and Refugee Law at Lloyd Law collegeTop law colleges in india for 3 years llb, should be continued.
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