Indus Water Treaty Current Affairs - 2019
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Union Cabinet has approved implementation of Shahpurkandi Dam Project on river Ravi in Punjab. It also has approved central assistance of Rs. 485.38 crore (for irrigation component) over five years period from 2019 to 2023. The project will be implemented by Punjab Government with central assistance. It will be completed by June 2022.
The total cost of this project is Rs. 1973.53 crore (Irrigation component: 564.63 cr, Power component: 1408.90 cr.) Out of this, Rs 485.38 cr would be provided as Central Assistance. Funding for central assistance will be made through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) under existing system for funding of 99 Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana- Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (PMKSY-AIBP) projects under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF).
This project will help minimising some of water of River Ravi which at present is going waste through Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan. It will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectares in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in Jammu & Kashmir on completion. Besides, Punjab will be able to generate 206 MW of hydropower.
Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 for sharing of Indus waters. According to this treaty, India got the full rights for utilization of waters of three eastern rivers namely Ravi, Beas and Satluj. Bilateral agreement was signed between Punjab and J&K in January 1979 for construction of RanjitSagar Dam (Thein Dam) and Shahpurkandi Dam by Punjab Government. RanjitSagar Dam was commissioned in August 2000. ShahpurKandi Dam project was proposed on River Ravi. The Project was initially approved by erstwhile Planning Commission in November 2001 and was included under AIBP for funding its irrigation component. However, works could not progress much due to non-availability of funds on part of Punjab Government for power component and later interstate issues with J&K. Series of meetings were held bilaterally between both states as well as at Central Government level. Finally, agreement was reached between both states under aegis of Ministry of Water Resources in September, 2018.
India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), to be held in Lahore in March 2017. The last round of the PIC was held in July 2016.
This development came after two months of diplomatic negotiations, with World Bank officials playing mediator in encouraging Pakistan to extend the invitation and for India to accept.
- It signals a major shift in India’s position on talks with Pakistan on IWT as it had announced suspending talks after the Uri terror attacks in September 2016.
- This decision was taken by meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary and senior PMO officials.
- Decision taken in the meeting: Utilise water from Indus River under India’s share to fullest. It also suspended talks on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), the dispute redressal mechanism until terrorism stops. It decided to build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) to exploit full potential.
- In November 2016, India also rejected World Bank’s decision to constitute a Court of Arbitration to look into complaints from Pakistan over India’s construction of Kishenganga and Ratle river water projects. India had clearly mentioned that WB’s decision was biased in Pakistan’s favour.
About Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)
IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). It deals with sharing of water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries. It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960. As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers —Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. Under it, a Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates and solves disputes arising over water sharing between the two countries. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. The treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990. It is most successful water treaty in world.