INDUS WATERS TREATY (IWT) (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – IR)

News-CRUX-10     10th June 2024        

Context: India may host a Pakistan delegation this month for a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commis- sion (PIC) that looks to resolve bilateral issues through dialogue under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)

  • Background: The IWT, brokered by the World Bank and signed in 1960, divides the Indus river system between India and Pakistan.
  • Water control division: India was given control over the Beas, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers, while Pakistan received control over the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum rivers.
  • Signatories: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, former Vice President of the World Bank, W.A.B. Iliff.
  • Major Provisions of the treaty: 
  • Partition and negotiations: The treaty became necessary after the partition of India in 1947 to divide the Indus river system.
  • Sharing formula: The sharing formula allocated 80.52% of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan, demonstrating India's generosity as an upper riparian.
  • Financial support: India provided Rs 83 crore in pounds sterling to Pakistan for building replacement canals from the western rivers.
  • It also required both the countries to establish a Permanent Indus Commission constituted by permanent commissioners on both sides. 
  • India is allowed to have a minimum storage level on the western rivers, meaning it can store up to 3.75 MAF of water for conservation and flood storage purposes.
  • The IWT provides a three-step dispute resolution mechanism

oFirst resolution: Starts at the Permanent Commission.

oSecond stage resolution: In case of unresolved questions or “differences”, either side can approach the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert (NE) to come to a decision. 

oThird stage resolution: If either party is not satisfied with the NE’s decision or in case of “disputes” in the interpretation and extent of the treaty, matters can be referred to a Court of Arbitration.

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