About Indus Water Treaty

About Indus Water Treaty

  • It is the treaty between the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan with twin objectives-
  • Water sharing of river Indus and its tributaries between the upper riparian India and lower riparian Pakistan.
  • Optimum utilisation of the waters of the Indus system of rivers.
  • It was signed under the arbitration of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (which is now World Bank) in Pakistan in 1960.
  • The Indus Waters Treaty is one of the most liberal water distribution agreements between the two countries as it gives India 20% of the water from the Indus River System and the rest 80% to Pakistan.

Rivers Covered under the Treaty

  • The treaty covers the water distribution and sharing rights of-
  • Three Eastern Riversof Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and their tributaries
  • Three Western Riversof Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and their tributaries

Major Provisions of the Treaty

  • Water Sharing
    • Under this treaty, India got control exclusive over all the waters of the eastern rivers of Beas, Ravi and Sutlej.
    • Pakistan got control over the waters of the western rivers of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum except for except for specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India.
    • This implies that-
      • All the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre-feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.
      • The waters of the western rivers averaging to around 135 MAF were allocated to Pakistan except for ‘specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India,’ according to the treaty.
      • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.


  • Permanent Indus Commission
    • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up by the United Nations for resolving any disputes that may arise in water sharing, with a mechanism for arbitration to resolve conflicts amicably.
    • As per the Treaty, both India and Pakistan have created a permanent post of Commissioner for Indus Waters which together constitutes the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC).
    • It is also entrusted with the implementation of the Treaty.
    • The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works.

  • Information Exchange
    • Both sides are required to exchange information related to river flows observed by them, not later than three months of their observation.
    • They also exchange specified information on agricultural use every year and the quantum of water being used under the treaty.
    • India is also under obligation to supply information of its storage and hydroelectric projects as specified.

Major Issues of IWT

  • In 2016, Pakistan had approached the World Bank raising concerns of India’s Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects being constructed in Jammu & Kashmir region. India then requested for neutral experts to inspect the plants. The World Bank permitted India to proceed with the projects.
  • India also expresses its objection to Pakistan’s Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) project which passes through the Rann of Kutch in India’s Gujarat. The lower riparian state is in India and hence it needs to be given all details. There is also the danger of flooding in the state of Gujarat.
  • The Indian government has decided some years back to review the suspension of Tulbul project. The project got suspended in 1987 after Pakistan’s objection.
  • Post Uri attacks on India, Indian Prime Minister Modi remarked that blood and water cannot flow simultaneously which was an indication that India can rethink the provision of the IWT.
  • India does not use its entire share of water it is entitled to as per the provisions of the IWT. About 2 million acre feet (MAF) of water from the River Ravi flows into Pakistan unutilised by India. However, GOI is taking slew of measures for that.
  • After Pulwama attacks in 2019, the Indian government decided that all water flowing into Pakistan from the three eastern rivers, will be diverted to Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan for different uses.

India’s Utilization of Eastern Rivers

  • To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use, India has constructed-
    • Bhakra Dam on Satluj
    • Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas
    • Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi

  • These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.
  • However, about two MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan.
  • To stop the flow of these waters, the Centre is currently taking steps like-
    • Resumption of construction of Shahpurkandi project
    • Construction of Ujh multipurpose project
    • Second Ravi-Beas link below Ujh

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