Indus Water Treaty: Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari, on February 21, 2019, has announced that the Narendra Modi-led government has decided to stop its share of eastern rivers water flowing from Pakistan to India. Notably, the decision comes in the wake of the gruesome Pulwama Attack on February 14, 2019 in which 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Water to Pakistan now diverted to Jammu and Kashmir

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, in a tweet, said that India has decided to fully utilise its share of unused water from rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej that has been flowing into Pakistan. Notably, under the Indus Water Treaty, India shares the waters of Beas and Sutlej with Pakistan.

The decision to fast track the dam construction to block unutilised water through three projects has been taken. Gadkari further said that the construction of the dam at Shahpur-Kandi has started on Ravi river, besides a second Sutlej-Beas link in Punjab and the Ujh dam in Jammu and Kashmir. The projects, announced in 2016, have recently been inaugurated.

Officials insist that the government’s decision will not impact Pakistan’s share of water under the Indus Water Treaty between the two nations. Also, the actual implementation of the decision is likely to take at least 6 years, as 100 metre high dams need to be built to stop such water flow.

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Indus Water Treaty: All about the India-Pakistan Treaty

Indus Water Treaty

  • Signed in 1960, the Indus Water Treaty is an agreement signed by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, marking out control over the six rivers running across the Indus basin post partition of the subcontinent.
  • The Indus Water Treaty has 6 rivers of the Indus basin originate in Tibet and flow across the Himalayan ranges to end in the Arabian sea south of Karachi. Before the India-Pakistan partition, the two countries shared a common network. However, since the partition drew terrestrial borders, it became a question as to how the Indus waters would be divided. Since Pakistan would now be dependent on India to be fed, it unsurprisingly grew insecure.
  • On a global level, the Indus Water Treaty is viewed as a symbol of conflict resolution, given the fact that it has stayed intact for 4 years, despite the two neighbouring countries constantly at loggerheads with each other.
  • Therefore, initially, the Inter-Dominion accord of May 4, 1948 resolved the issue by laying out an arrangement that India would release water to Pakistan over annual payments from the latter. However, this agreement had its own flaws, due to which an alternative solution was needed.
  • Eventually, in 1960, the Indus Water Treaty was signed with the components of the treaty being fairly simple. 3 western rivers (Jhelum, Chenab and Indus) were allocated to Pakistan while India was given control over the 3 eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej).
  • The tussle over the treaty, however, is caused due to the fact that though India is allowed to use the western rivers for purposes of consumption; but is prohibited to build any storage systems. The Indus Water Treaty, however, allows the building of storage and irrigation systems under exceptional circumstances.
  • From India’s point of view, it suspects Pakistan’s hand in restricting the building of storage systems due to the political rivalry between the two countries. The matter is further made complicated due to the fact that the western rivers fall under the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
  • Consequently, India and Pakistan, ever since the signing of the Indus Water Treaty is 1960, have been embroiled in conflicts over several projects like Salal hydroelectric project on the Chenab, the Tulbul project, the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric plants.

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Indus Water Treaty: The Pulwama Aftermath

  • India has scrapped the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan, which means that India can increase trade rates to the items being imported from Pakistan. Also, Pakistan would lose concessions on tariffs and the trade flow would no longer be smooth between the two countries. Customs Duty on Pakistani goods is also hiked up to 200%.
  • New Delhi has taken steps to isolate Pakistan in the international community.
  • All India Cine Workers Association (AICWE) has declared a blanket ban on the Pakistani actors and artists working in the industry. The statement also highlights that despite the ban, if any organisation tried working with Pakistani artists, the AICWE will take strict action against them.
  • Indian citizens have also been ordered to not employ any Pakistani citizen and to not have any direct or indirect business relationships with the neighbouring country.
  • Notably, the Pulwama Attack is by far the worst terror attack after the Uri Attack in 2016.