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Daily News Analysis


27th February, 2024 International News


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Picture Courtesy: https://chellaney.net/2016/08/19/rivers-of-conflict-between-india-and-pakistan/

Context: The Shahpur Kandi Barrage completion redirects water from the Ravi River, previously flowing into Pakistan, to the Indian states of Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, concluding a project delayed for over three decades.

Key Highlights

  • The Indus Water Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, governs the sharing of waters from the Indus River system. According to the treaty, the eastern rivers—Sutlej, Ravi, and Beas—are allocated to India, while the western rivers—Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab—are allocated to Pakistan.
  • The redirection of water from the River Ravi is likely within the framework of this treaty, ensuring that India complies with its international commitments regarding water-sharing arrangements.

Domestic Development Prioritization

  • The decision to redirect water resources reflects India's commitment to prioritize domestic development. By utilizing its share of river waters for domestic projects, India aims to address local needs for water resources and support regional development. This approach aligns with broader national strategies for infrastructure development and ensuring the well-being of its citizens.

Agricultural Productivity

  • The Shahpur Kandi Irrigation and Hydel Power Generation Project's primary goal is to enhance agricultural productivity in the region. Improved irrigation facilities can have a direct positive impact on agriculture by ensuring a more consistent and reliable water supply for farmers. This can lead to increased crop yields and better agricultural outcomes, ultimately benefiting the local economy.

River Disputes between India And Pakistan

  • The river disputes between India and Pakistan primarily revolve around the sharing of water resources from the Indus River system. The Indus River and its tributaries flow through both India and Pakistan, and the two countries have historically faced challenges and conflicts related to the utilization of these waters. The Indus Water Treaty, signed in 1960, was a significant attempt to address these issues.

During the partition of British India in 1947, the rivers of the Punjab region were shared between India and Pakistan. The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 was brokered by the World Bank to regulate and distribute the waters of the Indus River system.

Indus Water Treaty (IWT)

  • Treaty Framework: The IWT divided the six major rivers into eastern and western rivers.
    • Eastern Rivers (Under Indian Control): Sutlej, Ravi, Beas
    • Western Rivers (Under Pakistani Control): Indus, Jhelum, Chenab
  • Water Allocation: India got the unrestricted use of the eastern rivers, while Pakistan was allocated the western rivers. Certain provisions allowed limited use of western rivers by India for specified purposes.

Disputes and Concerns

  • Utilization of Western Rivers by India: India has expressed concerns about its limited ability to utilize the water from the western rivers, particularly the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab, for irrigation and power generation.
  • Hydropower Projects: The construction of hydropower projects by India on the western rivers has been a contentious issue. Pakistan has raised objections, expressing concerns about the potential impact on the flow of water downstream.
  • Kishanganga and Ratle Projects: The Kishanganga hydroelectric project on the Neelum River (a tributary of the Jhelum) and the Ratle hydroelectric project on the Chenab have been sources of tension. Disputes over the design and impact of these projects have led to legal battles and diplomatic tensions.
  • Baglihar Dam Dispute: The Baglihar Dam on the Chenab River led to disputes between India and Pakistan. An independent expert determined certain design changes needed to address Pakistan's concerns.

River Disputes Between India and Pakistan

Key Points



Central Treaty

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) (1960): Brokered by the World Bank, this treaty divides the Indus River System between India and Pakistan.

Eastern Rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej): Allocated to India.

Western Rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab): Allocated to Pakistan.

Provides the framework for water sharing, dispute resolution mechanisms, and cooperative projects.

Represents a critical tool for preventing conflict and managing water resources in the region.

Cause of Disputes

India's infrastructure projects: India's construction of dams, barrages, and hydropower projects on rivers allocated to it under the IWT sparks tensions.

Pakistan's concerns: Pakistan fears these projects will significantly reduce water flow into its territory, potentially violating the IWT, and negatively impacting its agriculture and water security.

These projects highlight competing needs for water and potential flashpoints for disagreement about compliance with the IWT.

Disputed Projects

Baglihar Dam (Chenab River): Pakistan had concerns about the dam's design impacting water flow into its territory. The issue went to arbitration.

Kishenganga/Neelum Project (Jhelum River): Pakistan claims the project diverts water in violation of the IWT, India denies this. The issue is under consideration by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Shahpur Kandi Barrage (Ravi River): Pakistan disputes the legality of this project and its impact on water flow.

These specific projects illustrate the technical and legal complexities involved in the river disputes.

Demonstrate how disputes are handled within the IWT framework, sometimes including third-party mediation.

Resolution Mechanisms

IWT Provisions: The treaty includes mechanisms for negotiation, consultation, and neutral experts for dispute resolution.

World Bank: The World Bank played a role in brokering the treaty and can provide mediation or facilitate arbitration.

International Arbitration: In some cases, disputes may be resolved through the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

While the IWT offers pathways for resolving issues, finding mutually agreeable solutions requires political will and compromise by both countries.

Challenges & Considerations

Climate Change: Increasing water scarcity intensifies the importance of water-sharing agreements and exacerbates disputes.

Political Factors: Domestic politics and historical tensions between India and Pakistan can impede the resolution of disputes.

Need for Cooperation: The transboundary nature of the Indus River system highlights the need for India and Pakistan to cooperate on sustainable water management and resource sharing.

These broader factors underscore the complexities beyond technical or legal aspects and emphasize the need for a long-term and holistic approach to address water security and conflict prevention.


  • The river disputes between India and Pakistan are complex and multifaceted, involving historical agreements, concerns about water usage, and disputes over specific projects. The Indus Water Treaty remains a crucial framework, but ongoing developments in water infrastructure and geopolitical dynamics continue to shape the landscape of these disputes. Diplomatic efforts and international mediation may play a role in finding equitable and sustainable solutions to these challenges.

Must Read Articles:

INDIA-PAKISTAN RELATIONS: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/india-pakistan-relations-6


Q. How can the Indus Waters Treaty be renegotiated or interpreted to balance India's desire for increased hydropower development with Pakistan's concerns about water security and potential downstream impacts?