Here is why India has given notice to Pakistan for amendment of the Indus Waters Treaty

In all the five meetings held from 2017 to 2022, Pakistan has objected to India’s hydropower projects

By Vivek Mishra
Published: Friday 27 January 2023
The Indus River in Sukkur, Pakistan. Photo: iStock

India issued a notice to Pakistan January 25, 2023 stating the need to amend the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, media reports said. The reports quoted sources as saying that India issued the notice through commissioners appointed under Article XII (3) of the Indus Waters Treaty.

The notice gives Pakistan 90 days within which it can enter into inter-governmental negotiations to rectify the violations of the Indus Waters Treaty. This process will also update the Indus Waters Treaty as the situation has changed in the last 62 years.

The news agency Press Trust of India reported:

India has stated that it is following the Indus Waters Agreement, 1960 with full responsibility and participation. However, due to the actions of Pakistan, there has been an adverse effect on the provisions of the Indus Waters Agreement. Due to this, India has been forced to send a notice for amendment to the Indus Waters Treaty.

Under the Indus Waters Agreement signed between India and Pakistan September 19, 1960, the waters of the eastern rivers (Ravi, Basin, Sutlej and its tributaries) in the Indus Water System were allocated to India.

On the other hand, India has to maintain the water flow of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and its tributaries).

The Kishanganga (Neelum) and Ratle hydropower projects in India’s Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are on these western rivers, which Pakistan has objected to.

According to media reports, in 2015, India had requested Pakistan to appoint a neutral expert to examine the Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects and reveal their technical flaws. However, in 2016, Pakistan unilaterally proposed that an arbitration court adjudicate on its objections.

The initiation of two parallel processes on one issue and the same question may not only lead to controversial results but may also damage the Indus Waters Treaty, media reports have said.

In 2016, taking cognizance of this, the World Bank had recommended to stop the process on both sides and find an amicable solution.

The unilateral decision taken by Pakistan for hydropower projects violates Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty. In this article, a graded mechanism has been suggested for resolving disputes.  That is why India had requested Pakistan to appoint an impartial expert in this matter.

Commissioners are appointed by both India and Pakistan according to the Indus Waters Treaty, which came into effect from April 1, 1960.

At the same time, both countries have to hold a meeting on their respective issues in turn. The two countries have met five times from 2017 to 2022. In all these meetings, Pakistan has objected to India’s hydropower projects on the western rivers.

The recent India-Pakistan meeting regarding the Indus Waters Treaty was held in New Delhi on May 30-31, 2022. The meeting was described as cordial by both countries. Both the countries had also requested the sharing of pre-flood conditions and related information. However, even in this meeting, Pakistan had raised objections to India’s hydroelectric projects.

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