India has sent a notice to Pakistan calling for the ‘modification’ of the Indus Waters Treaty owing to Pakistan’s persistent objections regarding India’s Kishenganga (KHEP) and Ratle hydropower projects in Kashmir.
- India and Pakistan signed the IWT in September, 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory to the pact.
- The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two sides on the use of the water of the Indus River and its five tributaries Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Jhelum, and Chenab.
- It allocated the three western rivers—Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—to Pakistan for unrestricted use, barring certain non-consumptive, agricultural and domestic uses by India and the three Eastern rivers—Ravi, Beas and Sutlej—were allocated to India for unrestricted usage.
- This means that 80% of the share of water went to Pakistan, while leaving the rest 20% of water for use by India.
- It also required both the countries to establish a Permanent Indus Commission constituted by permanent commissioners on both sides. According to the provisions of the IWT, the Permanent Indus Commission is required to meet at least once a year.
What is Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project?
- The Kishanganga project is located 5 km north of Bandipore in Jammu and Kashmir, India.
- It is a run-of-the-river project that includes a 37 m tall concrete-face rock-fill dam.
- It requires to divert water from the Kishanganga River through a tunnel to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin.
- The dispute redressal mechanism provided under the IWT is a graded 3-level mechanism.
- Under the IWT, whenever India plans to start a project, it has to inform Pakistan. The concerns have to be cleared at the levels of the Indus Commissioners → Neutral Expert → Court of Arbitration, in a graded manner.
- India has not fully utilised its rights over the waters of the Indus system.
- Over the last few years, especially since the Uri attack, there has been a growing demand in India to use the IWT as a strategic tool, considering that India has a natural advantage being the upper riparian state. In the aftermath of the Uri attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, ‘blood & water can’t flow together at the same time.’
- Accordingly, India has been working to start several big and small hydroelectric projects that had either been stalled or were in the planning stages.