Indus water treaty

Indus Water Treaty

After a gap of more than two and half years Indian and Pakistani delegations have begun the 116th Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission.(Indus Water Treaty)

The first day of the Meeting coincided with the National Day of Pakistan (marks Lahore Resolution of 23rdMarch, 1940).

The meeting is being viewed as part of the broader process of normalisation of bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

The Indus system comprises of main Indus River, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system.

The pact was signed between India and Pakistan in September 1960 in Karachi by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan.

Indus Water Treaty Main Provisions:

  1. Under the Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of three rivers, namely Ravi,Sutlej and Beas ( Eastern Rivers)averaging around 33 million acre feet ( MAF) were allocated to India for exclusive use.
  2. The waters of Western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab averaging to around 135 MAF were allocated to Pakistan except for specified domestic , non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India as provided in the Treaty.
  3. However, since Indus flows from India, the country is allowed to use 20 per cent of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.
  4. India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run of the river(RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.
  5. 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.
  6. It also makes mandatory for both countries to appoint water commissioners, who are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites.
  7. Either party must notify the other of plans to construct any engineering works which would affect the other party and to provide data about such works.

Permanent Indus Commission

About the Permanent Indus Commission:

It is a bilateral commission of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960.

The Commission, according to the treaty, shall meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan.

The functions of the Commission include:

      • To study and report to the two Governments on any problem relating to the development on the waters of the rivers.
      • To solve disputes arising over water sharing.
      • To arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works.
      • To undertake, once in every five years, a general tour of inspection of the Rivers for ascertaining the facts.
      • To take necessary steps for the implementation of the provisions of the treaty.

The 115th meeting of the PIC was held in Lahore in August, 2018.


  • To utilize 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 and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi.
  • These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, Indira Gandhi Nahar Project etc has helped India utilize nearly entire share (95 %) of waters of Eastern rivers.
  • However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilized to Pakistan below Madhopur. To stop the flow of these waters that belong to India for its utilization in India, following steps have been taken:
  1. Resumption of Construction of Shahpurkandi project: This project will help in utilizing the waters coming out from powerhouse of Thein dam to irrigate 37000 hectares of land in J&K and Punjab and generate 206 MW of power. The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the state of J&K  and Punjab, the work on the project had been suspended since 30.08.2014. Consequent upon agreement reached on 8 September 2018 between J&K and Punjab . The cost of the project is .
  2. Construction of Ujh multipurpose project:This project will create a storage of about 781 million cu m of water on river Ujh , a tributary of Ravi for irrigation and power generation in India itself and  provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 ha in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba district of J&K apart from providing water for the district Kathua of J&K.
  3. The 2nd  Ravi Beas link below Ujh:This project is being planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam, by constructing a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a  tunnel link to Beas basin. The project is expected to utilize about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to Beas basin for benefits of other co-basin states. Govt. of India declared this project as National Project .

The above three projects will help India to utilize its entire share of waters given under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

Projects over which Pakistan has raised objections(Indus Water Treaty)

  • Ratle on Chenab river
  • Wullar Barrage/Tulbul barrage on Jhelum
  • Kishanganga hydroelectric plant.
  • 1,000MW Pakal Dul dam and 48MW Lower Kalnal hydropower projects on the Chenab river.
  • The Lower Kalnai project is on a left bank tributary of Chenab .
  • 1,856 MW Sawalkote plant.
  • Kwar, Kiru and Bursar in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Kirthai I and II.

Projects on which India has raised objections(Indus Water Treaty)

  • Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) project passing through the Great Rann of Kutch area (Gujarat, India).

Important Topics Mains:

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