Parliamentary Panel Tells Govt To Renegotiate Indus Treaty With Pakistan

New Delhi: In a significant recommendation, a parliamentary panel on Thursday urged the government to renegotiate the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan, noting that pressing issues such as climate change, global warming and environmental impact assessment are missing from the pact that divides the Indus Basin waters.

The standing committee on water resources said the treaty was framed on the basis of knowledge and technology existing in 1960 when the perspective of both nations was merely confined to river management and usage of water through the construction of dams, barrages, canals and hydropower generation.

Any suggestion of “renegotiating” the IWT is seen in a political light and is unlikely to be welcomed in Pakistan. Though India has not moved to alter it, PM Narendra Modi had okayed proposals to further develop the use of India’s share following border tensions with Pakistan in his first tenure as PM.

“There is a need to renegotiate the treaty to establish an institutional structure or legislative framework to address the impact of climate change on water availability and other challenges which are not covered under the Treaty,” said the panel, headed by BJP Lok Sabha member Sanjay Jaiswal.

The committee on Thursday tabled its report on flood management in the country through multiple measures including international water treaties and agreements with Pakistan, China and Bhutan.

The Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan for sharing of waters of the Indus Basin. Under the treaty, the total quantity of waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — is allocated to India for unrestricted use while the waters of western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — is allocated largely to Pakistan. India is, however, permitted to use the water of the western rivers for domestic use, irrigation and generation of hydro-electric power. But India has not been fully utilising its legal share.

The panel, in view of this, recommended that the government should examine the feasibility of making maximum use of the provisions of the Treaty in terms of “full utilization of all accessible water of the eastern rivers and maximum utilization of the irrigation and hydropower potential of western rivers including permissible water storage as per the provisions”.

It also urged the government to complete projects like Ujh in Jammu & Kashmir and Shahpur Kandi in Punjab expeditiously so as to “exploit full potential of the western rivers for irrigation and other purposes”. These multipurpose projects are meant for hydro-power, irrigation and drinking.

Though India as per the IWT has the right to create water capacity storage up to 3.6 million acre-feet (MAF) on western rivers, no storage capacity has, so far, been created by the country. Besides, out of an estimated power potential of about 20,000 MW, which could be harnessed from western rivers power projects, only 3,482 MW capacity of hydro-power generation units has been constructed so far.

As far as China is concerned, India has MoUs with the country on Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers. The Committee recommended that “India should constantly monitor the Chinese actions so as to ensure that they do not pursue any major interventions on Brahmaputra river which would adversely affect” the country’s national interests.

(With inputs from agencies)