Indus water treaty 1960

Tamil Naidu and Karnataka, the two states within India have difficulty in amicably sharing water and resort to violence every year. Almost all cities/regions in India have scarcity of water and water table is depleting at almost a crisis level. Then how come a treaty signed in 1960 between two warring countries still survive in 2016?

It is a beautiful piece of document, which thanks to the geography, makes it very easy to govern & enforce. The principle terms were agreed by December 1954, yet the signed treaty took another 6 years to finalize and was formally signed only in 19 Sept 1960. MEA was maintaining a copy of the agreement (However the link is now down and last I had accessed it was in 2013) Here is the pdf copy of the agreement that I could source.

This 1960 agreement divides the whole basin into Western rivers and Eastern rivers. India is granted exclusive access to 3 eastern Rivers Sutlej, Beas & Ravi, while Pakistan is granted access to 3 western rivers Indus, Jhelum & Chenab. India is required to maintain the catchment area in the J&K for the three western rivers and in return Pakistan is to maintain the drainage for the three eastern rivers. Additionally, a sum of 62 million pounds were to be paid to Pakistan in 10 installments to divert the western rivers to irrigate the eastern rivers catchment area.

indus-river-basin

There is hardly any portion of The Indus basin in India, in spite what the name India would have suggested. Pakistan getting 80% of the water is because of geography and not because of generosity of India. Indus river does not flow through India and hence there is little we can do to change it. If you have doubt the map I have posted, then check any atlas or google maps which is sensible enough to demarcate IOK and POK. Whatever portion of Indus is in Ladhak is no more than a trickle compared to the 233 thousand cusec (6,600 tons per sec) that gets discharged to the Arabian ocean. Mind you that this is the amount of water that is after all the irrigation, evaporation, seepage into the ground throughout the 2,880km of length and other forms of consumption/diversion.

These rivers are oceans not drain pipes so changing their natural flow is prohibitively expensive. There is no water pump in the planet that can handle the flow so diverting Beas to Rajasthan is going to be prohibitively expensive. Also India does not use 100% of the water of the eastern rivers (of Indus basin) or the ganga basin, so why go another 1000km north, waste money in expensive terraforming activities just to disrupt the flow of Pak rivers. Mind you the Western rivers don’t even flow in the plains of India so this diversion has to be done in the mountains at an astronomical ecological & financial drain. Many portions of the Himalyas are still prone to earthquakes and god knows what will happen. Just take the arguments against Tehri dam and magnify them by 100 folds.

China build Zangmu Dam (藏木) on Bhramaputra river which disrupts the downstream flow. In theory India could create flash floods and droughts in the 3 western rivers, but are we ready to bear the moral & ecological cost of the same? Himalayas produces enough water to satisfy the needs of both India & Pakistan. If any country needs more then they can reduce the discharge to the Arabian sea & Bay of Bengal respectively. Let us not threaten the 56-year-old treaty just to fulfill one’s political ambitions.

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