3 points of confusion around the Indus water treaty and the way forward


This is a news thread for the utterly confused, the complete newbies, for the confused billis who have no clue why and how the world works!

We read a news headline and we go in a deep meditative screen gaze! Wut the hell keeps on happening everyday! I just understood surgical strikes the other day and a friend popped up the question of – what is cold doctrine, what is tactical strike, what is our no nuke first policy, what is our doctrine of attack across 3 wings of army, airforce and navy!

I had no clue. I was busy researching on this indus water treaty! Why did Nehru ji sign this at all!! Anyway – here is my confused research 🙂

Confusion Level 1 – What is this indus water treaty? Are there other treaties that we have signed with other neighbours?

After independence we had conflict with Pak over most of the things no! So the 6 rivers that flow through that border area –
Pak took these three western rivers (the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum)
India took these three eastern rivers (the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej)

But India got 20% control over Indus waters!

Who brokered the deal? World Bank! Also, also – this was no water sharing – it was plain, simple partition! Rivers ka bhi partition.

Do we have river sharing anywhere? YES. I was thinking bangladesh, nepal and china and I found this.

“Bangladesh, the eastern neighbour with which India hopes to resolve differences on sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers, is criss-crossed by over 300 rivers, 54 of which are common with India.”

China we know of course has influence in Brahmaputra’s flow. And Prelims waley ye bhi pooch saktey hain –

“The Brahmaputra, one of India’s major rivers, originates in Tibet and flows into Arunachal Pradesh and Assam before going into Bangladesh.”

So, China did this 19 hours ago – http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-blocks-brahmaputra-tributary-impact-on-water-flow-in-india-not-clear/story-QVAYbO2iOBFUSynwwpyneN.html

Think of Nepal and we have this –

A Treaty on Integrated Development of Mahakali was signed between India and Nepal in February, 1996 which came into force in June 1997 (Mahakali Treaty).
River in case = Sarda

Who else is left? Bhutan? Aah – I have no patience to google it coz i have a new question!

Confusion Level 2: Can we just walk off the indus water treaty? Just like that! Like a boss?

Modi sir to bol diye ki blood and water cannot flow together but but Nehru Sir has signed this clause!

“Article XII of the treaty says “The provisions of this Treaty, or, the provisions of this Treaty as modified under the provisions of Paragraph (3), shall continue in force until terminated by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two governments.” Still if India wants to go about abrogating it, the country should abide by the 1969 Vienna convention on the law of treaties”

Vienna convention on laws of treaties!!! I have no time to google it coz I wonder if let’s say we stop the flow. What next – Do we have reservoirs to hold water? I know its not UPSC stuff but what if there are dams and UPSC just asks about PRELIMS ques on those!!!

I found that india has no storage facility on western rivers. Okay, I googled about Vienna Treaty and India’s case in it and found that India has neither signed nor ratified the law on treaties 🙂

Read more here – http://swarajyamag.com/world/how-india-can-unilaterally-walk-away-from-the-indus-waters-treaty

But, hypothetically if in case we break the treaty – what do we get!

– India will get more share from Indus and will help in developing Irrigation and HEP in J&K.
– However many neighbours like Nepal and Bangladesh with whom we’ve water treaties may go sceptical.
– China may get an excuse to build even more dams at Brahmaputra and we can’t oppose forcefully.

Confusion Level 3: What do experts say on this. Coz op-eds likhne to band nahi hue. Every human who has an opinion and a laptop is writing sagas over this.

Here’s what I found –

WB Says: At most the World Bank would step into, as per the treaty, to appoint a “neutral expert”, or help set up a Court of Arbitration, in case of a dispute.

Expert 1: India does not have the enough storage facility to create a supply problem immediately for Pakistan.
“It has to raise its dam structures and that will take time. There is also another angle to it. India, even if it wants to, cannot take the water out of Kashmir Valley. So, the water of the three rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) will remain in their basin and India cannot divert that to other areas due to geographical reasons. India can stop the supply for some time, but cannot divert it.”

Expert on China: China is quietly signalling India that any abrogation of the Indus Waters Treaty to punish its all-weather friend Pakistan will have consequences for this country as well.

All this tells me that kuch nahi hone wala. Ek Mains ka ques banega shayad but Prelims… maybe yes.

Questions from Prelims Daily 

#1. Consider following statements in regard to ‘Indus Water Treaty’.

1. India is allowed to use only 30 per cent of river Indus water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.

2. A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty.

3. Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?  

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 3 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3 only

Questions from Target Mains

#1. It is argued that a review of the Indus Water Treaty could prove to be a double-edged sword for India. Discuss why.

#2. From India’s point of view, what are the the pros and cons of the Indus water treaty? Examine.

#3. How did India and Pakistan solve Indus river water sharing problem? Do you think both countries can resolve their other bilateral problems in the same manner? Critically examine.

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