Pakistani delegation of Indus Water Commission headed by Mirza Asif Baig visited India to participate in the 109th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held under Article VIII (5) of the Indus Water Treaty, 1960 in New Delhi. The team visited India to discuss India’s proposed project on Chenab River basin. India has planned to undertake 4 hydroelectric projects on the river: Ratle (850 MW), Miyar (120 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Pakal Dul (1000 MW). Earlier, Pakistan had oppugned India’s design with regard to spillway, pondage and water intake.
Under Article VIII (5) of the Indus Water Treaty, 1960, the Commissioners are required to meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan and also when requested by either Commissioner.
As per the treaty, either side has to inform the other at least 6 months in advance, of any new projects to be undertaken. Owing to this, India has informed Pakistan about the four projects in the Chenab basin.
What is Indus Waters Treaty?
After the partition of India-Pakistan, the issue of sharing of water of rivers originating from Indus basin surfaced. India had all the advantage of using the waters of the all six main rivers originating from either the Himalayan or the Chinese Tibet side. Pakistan was wary that since the sources of rivers of the Indus basin were in India, it could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan, especially at times of war.
During the first years of partition the waters of the Indus were apportioned by the Inter-Dominion Accord of May 4, 1948. As per this accord, India was required to release sufficient waters to the Pakistani regions of the basin in return for annual payments from the government of Pakistan. The accord was meant to meet immediate requirements and was followed by negotiations for a more permanent solution. However, neither side was willing to compromise its respective position thus the issue reached a deadlock.
Finally, head of both countries (India’s then PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Pak’s then President Mohammed Ayub Khan) came to negotiation table to sign the Indus Waters Treaty brokered by the World Bank. As per the treaty proposed by the World Bank, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, which constitute the eastern rivers, are 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 utilization of waters of Jhelum, Chenab and the Indus itself, allocated to it under the treaty. Similarly, Pakistan has exclusive use of the Western Rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus but with some stipulations for development of projects on these rivers in India. Pakistan also received one-time financial compensation for the loss of water from the Eastern rivers. Now, as the moratorium is over, India has secured full rights for use of the waters of the three rivers allocated to it. The treaty resulted in partitioning of the rivers rather than sharing of their waters.