Water Issues between Nepal & India Presented by: Dr. Hem Raj Subedee Program Co-ordinator Department of conflict, peace and Development studies Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu Nepal
Nepal-India Relations • Nepal, a small mountainous country along the southern slopes of the Himalayas, has placed itself in an important strategic position for centuries. • sandwiched between India & China • Closer Social, Economic and Cultural ties with India than China • China: Geographically isolated by a chain of rugged mountain range: the Himalaya • Very Less Accesibility • India: Close and cordial relation with the southern neighbor for a long time. • Proximity • Open border • Culture • Religion • Even family ties
Water Resources of Nepal • Location of Super-developing India along Eastern, Southern and Western Frontiers of Nepal. • Emotions of Hope • Results: Disappointment • Anticipation: Close Cooperation would lead to a speedy development of NEPAL. • But The Biggest Question: Will it ???
The Geopolitics of Resources and Energy • Nepal is the source of large numbers of fast flowing rivers that originate in the Himalayas • These rivers carry huge potential energy as they flow downwards across the mountainous terrain • Nepalese Interest: Close cooperation with India to generate power from these water resources • Power generated can be shared between the two countries • Indian Interest: Control of the water flowing from Nepal
Past Water Treaties with India • Sarada Barrage Agreement • Treaty of Kosi • Treaty of Gandak • Tanakpur Treaty • Mahakali Treaty
Political Timeline of Nepal 1768: Beginning of the Shah Dynasty 1846: Beginning of the Rana Rule 1923: Treaty with British, Nepal’s sovereignty 1951: End of Rana Rule, Congress form govt. 1955: King Mahendra ascends throne 1959: First Gen. election in Nepal, B.P Koirala P.M. 1960: Mahendra suspends parliament, constitution and politics 1990: Pro-democracy movement, King Birendra agrees to New democratic constitution 1991: G.P. Koirala elected P.M. 2006: King Gyanendra restores Parliament after months of voilent agitation from Political parties and Maoists
Water Treaties vs. Political Development in Nepal • India’s way of asking the ‘Political Price’ 1920: Sarada Barrage Agreement 1954: Kosi Treaty 1959: Gandak Treaty 1991: Tanakpur Treaty 1996: The treaty of Mahakali
Sarada Barrage Agreement • 1920, Signed during the British rule in India • Sarada river forms border between India and Nepal, known as Mahakali river in Nepal • Nepal : 4.25 m3/s during dry season • 13 m3/s during wet season • 4000 acres of land was lost Some forestland and Rs.50,000 was promiesed by India • the promises were never kept • India : Constructed the Sarada Barrage • Sarada Canal withdraw 396 m3/s water for irrigation
Kosi and Gandak Agreement • Signed in 1954 and 1959 respectively • Political Scenario: India had received Independence • Nepal was free from Rana rule • Large tracts of Nepalese land were submerged due to the site of construction of the dam. • Nepal argued construction of Kosi barrage in Baranashetrainstead of Chatara and Gandak barrage near Narayanghat instead of Bhaiselotan • Nepalese needs were not heeded by Indian authorities and the dams were constructed according to their own self-vested interests.
Tanakpur Treaty • Elections in 1991 elected G.P. Koirala as the P.M of Nepal • G.P. Koirala visited New Delhi for his alliance for the support of restoration of democracy to Nepal • Came back by signing the Tanakpur Treaty • The treaty was highly criticized by the Nepalese people • PM was hackled for years with threats and blocks • G.P.Koirala was put in the charge sheet of ‘sellers of rivers’
Mahakali Treaty • Pressure from India to the Nepalese politicians to sign the treaty • Direct and Indirect play; Many personal Benefits through the Indian Embassy Kathmandu • The Foul Game Proved succesful • Mahakali treaty was ratified by the Nepalese parliamentarians • The Detailed Project Report (DPR) was never made out to the public even until today • Inundation of 25,000 hectares of fertile land • More than 56,000 people of Nepal displaced • Nepal not only lost the rights of the river but also got 4% less water • The construction of hydro project for electricity is still in limbo
Violation of Internation Water laws by India • Building dam within 15 km upstream and downstream of border is against International Law • Construction of dam within 8km of border unilaterally is prohibited: Helsinki Rules • Several dams have been constructed by India along the India-Nepal border. • RusiawalKurdaLautan, Laxamanpur, Luna, Koilabas, Mahlisagar, Tanakpur, Girijapur, Rauthahat etc. • Problems of Inundation in large parts of Nepal • Third High Level Technical (HLTC) meeting in inundation between the two countries was held from 27-29 September 2004 • Standing Committee on Inundation Problem (SCIP) followed right after from September 30- October 2, 2004 • India failed to realize any of Nepal’s genuine Inundation problem jeopardizing their relations.
India’s Clandestine Role to Influence Nepal’s Water Projects • India has an upper hand dealing with a tiny Himalayan Country • International funding agencies initiated several water projects in Nepal • Undermined due to the direct and indirect pressure by India • Medium sized projects Bagmati, Kamala, Rapti, Siktaetc. which could be afforded by Nepal on its own were sabotaged by India • Big projects such as the Arun III which would bring tremendous benefits to Nepal were cancelled due to the indirect game of India • World Bank would show interest only in groundwater projects in Nepal as this would not involve any problem with India • Several River Linking Projects started from India: Nepal has to keep silent to them
The Road Forward • India’s interests are only in the control of water flowing from Nepal not in the power generated • This might be detrimental to India: 2005, the gap between demand and supply of electricity in India was 50,000 MW • Nepal is getting nothing but giving more to India including its natural rights to the free use of the water • A poor and developing country like Nepal has no other choice than to export the power generated from the fast flowing rivers of Nepal • If India is to continue her unfair treaties with Nepal, the opportunity to receive easy power from a neighboring country might be forever closed to India • As new political stability show signs in Nepal, a better policy and investment towards energy generation might be the real road forward