Need to amend the Indus Waters Treaty

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Source: The post need to amend the Indus Waters Treaty has been created, based on the article “India, Pakistan and the Indus: Climate change means the revision of a treaty” published in “Indian express” on 8th July 2024

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper2- International Relations – Bilateral groupings and agreements

Context: The article discusses the need to amend the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan. It highlights India’s call for changes, Pakistan’s arbitration efforts, the impact of climate change, the importance of environmental flows, and the necessity for better data-sharing.

For detailed information on Indus Waters Treaty read this article here

Why Is India Seeking Amendments to the Indus Waters Treaty?

  1. Dispute Resolution: India is dissatisfied with the current dispute resolution process, pointing to Pakistan’s reluctance to engage effectively, which has led to unresolved issues.
  2. Climate Change Impact: The Indus basin, ranked as the world’s second most over-stressed aquifer by NASA in 2015, is significantly affected by climate change. About 31% of the river’s flow comes from glaciers and snow melts, which are becoming increasingly volatile.
  3. Hydroelectric Projects: Disputes such as those over the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects have intensified, with Pakistan seeking arbitration at The Hague, bypassing treaty-compliant proceedings.

What Issues Has Pakistan Raised?

  1. Dispute over Hydroelectric Projects: Pakistan objects to India’s Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects and bypassed treaty-compliant Neutral Expert proceedings to seek arbitration at The Hague.
  2. Lower Riparian Concerns: As a lower riparian state, Pakistan fears infrastructure developments will reduce downstream flows.
  3. Accusations of “Water Terrorism”: Pakistan accused India of “water terrorism” for the Shahpurkandi barrage project, despite the project’s compliance with the IWT.
  4. Environmental Flow Issues: Pakistan insists on maintaining environmental flows, supported by the 2013 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on India’s obligation to release flows downstream of the Kishanganga project.

What should be done?

  1. Integrate Ecological Perspectives: Incorporate Environmental Flows (EF) to sustain ecosystems, as suggested by the Brisbane Declaration and the 2013 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on Kishanganga.
  2. Enhance Data-Sharing: Establish a World Bank-supervised, legally binding data-sharing framework to monitor water quality and flow changes, ensuring accountability.
  3. Adopt International Legal Standards: Align treaty provisions with the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention and the 2004 Berlin Rules on Water Resources for sustainable water use.
  4. Recognize Climate Change Impacts: Develop strategies to manage climate change effects, considering NASA’s ranking of the Indus basin as the world’s second most over-stressed aquifer.

Question for practice:

Examine why India is seeking amendments to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

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