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The Indus Waters Treaty in the light of Climate Change. Mahe Zehra Husain. The Sub Continent. In 1947 India and Pakistan gained independence. The Indus Basin was ‘divided’ as was the province of Punjab. In1971 Bangladesh broke off from Pakistan. Dividing the Indus Basin….

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the sub continent
The Sub Continent

In 1947 India and Pakistan gained independence.

The Indus Basin was ‘divided’ as was the province of Punjab.

In1971 Bangladesh broke off from Pakistan.

dividing the indus basin
Dividing the Indus Basin…
  • As a result of the partition of 1947 half of the province of Punjab was left in Pakistan and the other half went to India. Pre-partition Punjab was called the ‘bread basket’ of the Indian Sub-Continent and the British had invested in an extensive irrigation system. This system was cut across during 1947 leaving the canal network in Pakistan and the head works in India. This gave India control of the canals and made Pakistan uneasy.
  • On the 1st of April 1948 India shut the canal gates and cut off water to Pakistan. About 1.7 million acres of productive land went out of cultivation and almost as many jobs. The Pakistanis were almost driven to war and the need to reach a formal water sharing agreement between the two neighbors became crucial.
the indus river system
The Indus River System

The River Indus originates in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet, flows through Laddakh in J&K and enters the Northern Areas of Pakistan. It then flows from the north to the south of Pakistan, merging into the Arabian Sea near Karachi, Sindh.

Total Length is 3,180 km

The Indus also has tributaries coming in from Afghanistan but we only consider the ones shared between India and Pakistan.

basin characteristics
Basin characteristics
  • Mean annual rainfall ranges from less than 100mm to around 750mm below the Himalayan mountains.
  • Seasonal monsoons occur in July/August.
  • Area is also subject to severe droughts.
  • ¾ of the water flow occurs between June-September.
  • Drainage area is 950,000km2
  • Catchment area of 470,000km2 in four countries.
  • The head waters of most of the tributaries are in J&K which is disputed territory.
why the iwt
Why the IWT?
  • On the 1st of April 1948 India shut the canal gates and cut off water to Pakistan. About 1.7 million acres of productive land went out of cultivation and almost as many jobs. The Pakistanis were almost driven to war and the need to reach a formal water sharing agreement between the two neighbors became crucial.
  • The World Bank helped the two countries to reach an agreement. It took almost ten years and finally in 1960 the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed in Karachi, Pakistan.
main points of the iwt
Main Points of the IWT
  • Pakistan would receive unrestricted use of the western rivers, Chenab, Jhelum and Indus, and India would allow for them to flow unimpeded with a few minor exceptions.
  • Pakistan built 3 dams, 8 link canals, 3 barrages and 2500 tube wells.
  • There was a 10 year transition period during which water was allowed to flow to Pakistan.
  • India paid $62 million in installments through the 10 year period.
  • There were also additional provisions for data exchange and cooperation possibilities.
  • Established the permanent Indus Commission, with a commissioner from each country. This was done to promote cooperation as well as keep dialogue open on water issues.
mangla and tarbela dams
Mangla and Tarbela Dams
  • 12th largest dam in the world.
  • On the Jhelum River
  • Built during 1961-67.
  • Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir.
  • 7.25 cubic kilometers capacity.
  • 1000MW installed capacity.
  • Lost 19% storage capacity due to siltation.
  • Largest earth and rock filled dam in the world.
  • On the Indus River.
  • Built during 1968-74.
  • Haripur District, NWFP.
  • 13.69 cubic kilometers.
  • 3478MW installed capacity.
degradation of the delta
Degradation of the Delta
  • When the Tarbela Dam was constructed the stored water was meant for both Punjab and Sindh, but the reality is that enough does not get to Sindh.
  • As a result the Sindhis don’t have enough water for agriculture, enough water is not flowing to the Indus delta and due to pollution the fishing industry has taken a severe downturn.
  • The Accord of 1991 between the provinces was supposed to settle the matter of water sharing but the allocations set out in that document have not been followed.
  • As a result Sindh and Punjab are not on the best of terms.
the indus and climate change
The Indus and Climate Change
  • “There is insufficient data to say what will happen to the Indus,” says David Grey, the World Bank’s senior water advisor in South Asia. “But we all have very nasty fears that the flows of the Indus could be severely, severely affected by glacier melt as a consequence of climate change,” and reduced by perhaps as much as 50 percent. “Now what does that mean to a population that lives in a desert [where], without the river, there would be no life? I don’t know the answer to that question,” he says. “But we need to be concerned about that. Deeply, deeply concerned.”
climate change in south asia1
Climate Change in South Asia
  • Deglaciation will result in the ‘mining’ of the waters stored in the Himalayas. There will be increased run-off and silt for a few decades that will be followed by a major reduction in river flows.
  • Monsoon rainfall will increase but will be poorly distributed as additional rainfall will occur in high intensity storms.
climate change in south asia2
Climate Change in South Asia
  • Area affected by flooding will increase as glaciers melt and rainfall increases.
  • In the next few decades there will be an opportunity to make use of the increased water supply to try and combat the future in which there will be very little.
recent headlines
Recent Headlines

Five Dams being built in occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan most venerable to Climate Change

Reduced Himalayan Snowfall Could Spark Water War

While the Pakistan Army is alert to and fighting the threat posed by militancy, it remains an “India-centric” institution and that reality will not change in any significant way until the Kashmir issue and water disputes are resolved, according to army chief Gen Kayani.

India’s Water Theft

Sensitive river-sharing issue can trigger India-Pakistan war: Pak PM advisor

Turmoil from Climate Change poses security risks

so are we looking at water wars in the future
So are we looking at water wars in the future?
  • Pakistan as the lower riparian is highly dependent on the waters of the Indus and its tributaries.
  • India has control of the disputed territory of Kashmir from where the waters of the Indus and its tributaries flow to Pakistan.
  • As we have seen India and Pakistan have a history of mutual antagonism.
  • They are pretty evenly poised as far as military might is concerned, in fact both are nuclear states.
acclaim for the iwt
Acclaim for the IWT
  • The Indus Waters Treaty is acclaimed by many as one of the most successful water treaties in the world, a treaty that has survived three wars between India and Pakistan
  • “Without a treaty there would have been five or six wars between them” says Kishor Upperty, a senior WB lawyer.
  • The Baghlihar Dam was built by India on the river Chenab in J&K.Pakistan objected to the construction of the reservoir saying that it would impede the flows of a river allocated to Pakistan under the IWT. After much back and forth a neutral expert was called in as per the IWT and the matter was resolved. This was the only time a dispute was settled by a neutral expert.
what about the future
What about the future?
  • There are dissenting voices in both India and Pakistan and many are not happy with the treaty.
  • India is unhappy that 75% of the water has been allocated to Pakistan
  • The Pakistanis feel that they should get more water as they have 90% of the cultivable land.
  • Many people are advocating an IWT 2 but given the above points, will it be possible for both countries to converge toward another IWT?
what can be done time is running out
What can be done? Time is running out?
  • There is much cause for concern given the burgeoning populations of both countries, their water stressed situations and the coming climate change.
  • People are talking of joint management and demand management for the Indus Basin.
  • Is such a future pratical?
  • Even the IWT just split the rivers and did not mention joint management of the river basin.
questions
Questions
  • Does having nuclear weapons help both sides? Is it better to have balanced power?
  • Does it make sense to even consider water wars in today's day and age?
  • What are the possible solutions that India and Pakistan can look at?
  • Demand management/Dams or both?
references
References
  • Wescoat, James L. Halvorson, Sarah J. Mustafa, Daanish (2000) Water Management in the Indus Basin of Pakistan: A Half Century Perspective.
  • Wescoat, James L. (1991) Managing the Indus Basin in Light of Climate Change: Four Conceptual Approaches.
  • Briscoe, John Qamar, Usman (2009) Pakistan’s Water Economy Running Dry.
  • Jaitly, Ashok (2007) South Asian Perspectives on Climate Change and Water Policy
  • Wasi, Nausheen (2009) Harnessing the Indus Waters Perspectives from Pakistan
  • Ali, Saleem H. Tabassum, Shaista Dabelko, Geoffrey (2007) Environmental Conflict and Cooperation in South Asia: Prospects for Transboundary Dispute Resolution with Shared Water Resources.
  • Iyer, Ramaswamay (2002) Was the Indus Waters Treaty in Trouble?
  • Iyer, Ramaswamay South Asian Water Concerns
  • Verghese, BG Political Fuss over the Indus, The Tribune 25th May 2005
  • Inter Press Service Reduced Himalayan Snowfall could spark water war 19th January 2010
  • Wheeler, William The Water’s Edge
  •  Akram, Agha Ali Indus Basin Water Resources
  • Kiani, Khaleeq 3rd Feburary 2010 DAWN Five dams being built in occupied Kashmir
  • Dinar et al Bridges over Water