Permanent Indus Commission Current Affairs

114th Permanent Indus Commission meeting held in Delhi

The 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) between India and Pakistan was held in New Delhi. Representatives from both sides discussed Indus Water Treaty (IWT) dispute and resolution of outstanding issues.

India’s Indus water commissioner PK Saxena and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials were part of Indian delegation for annual meeting. Pakistan’s six-member delegation will be led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah.

Background

The meeting took place in backdrop of continuing tension between two neighbouring countries over host of issues, including alleged harassment of diplomats. Pakistan has been expressing concerns over India’s Pakal Dul (1000 MW), Ratle (850 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects — located in Chenab basin – contending they violated IWT, signed in 1960. India, however, has been maintaining that designs of these projects are very much in accordance with IWT.

Permanent Indus Commission (PIC)

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed in 1960.  It covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers of Indus river system viz, Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The treaty specifies that waters from three western rivers viz. Indus, Jhelum and Chenab are reserved for Pakistan, while waters from eastern rivers viz. Ravi, Sutlej and Beas  are for reserved for India.

The PIC is established mechanism under IWT. Its mandate is to establish and maintain cooperative arrangements for implementation of water distribution pact and promote cooperation in development of Indus water systems between India and Pakistan. The meeting of PIC is held alternately in India and Pakistan at least once every year as mandated by treaty. The PIC had last met in Islamabad in March 2017.

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India to attend Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty World Bank

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.

Comment
  • 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.

Indus

 

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.

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